The “Un-American” Health Care Act

The Community Health Center of Buffalo is Fighting for the Health of Children, Seniors and the Uninsured in Western New York in the wake of the pending impact of “repeal and replace” of the Affordable Care Act

A Local Panel Discussion and Urgent “Call to Action” are scheduled to address the Republican sponsored American Health Care Act and how it will Impact the WNY Community.  Local partnerships are joining major associations representing medical professionals, community based organizations, hospitals, seniors and concerned citizens across the country in voicing their opposition to the Republican plan to rewrite the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and replace it with The American Health Care Act.

Critics of the plan are calling it “Un-American” at best; uniquely designed to punish the most vulnerable Americans; senior citizens and those receiving Medicaid or Medicare, the poor and underserved.  Its primary goal is to shift subsidies and dollars for entitlement programs from the working poor and middle income citizens to the very richest people in the country in the form of tax credits.

“Panel Discussion”

On Wednesday, March 15, 2017,  at 5:30 pm, We Are Women Warriors is hosting a community forum at the Frank E. Merriweather Library.  Guest speakers will be Karla Thomas, Director of Outreach for the Community Health Center of Buffalo , Inc., and CHCANYS Advocate; Bill Covington of (HEP) the Healthcare Education Project of 1199 SEIU and Greater New York Hospital Association and Timothy Hogues, Director of Erie County Senior Services.  The focus will be on sharing how the Republicans Repeal and Replace measure will impact Medicaid, Medicare, seniors, disabled and low income residents.  The discussion will also share what citizens can do to help.

Medicaid, Medicare and any government sponsored health program in America is in danger right now.  Seniors and low income families across the nation who depend on Medicare and Medicaid are uneasy while they wait to see what’s going to happen to their health care. The viability of federally qualified health centers nationwide are especially in jeopardy with the Repeal and/or Replacement of the Affordable Care Act (OBAMACARE).  Regardless of what is happening with the health insurance system, Western New Yorkers need a place to go for their care.  Community Health Centers have always been that place. Even in the midst of changes in the health care system, community health care centers serve as safety nets for the most vulnerable among us and is one of the primary reasons they exist today.

Medicaid and Medicare appear to be the targets of the day with votes for the proposed replacement plan (The American Health Care Act) split right down party lines.  However, this is really not about Democrat or Republicans.  It is not about the red, white and blue flag we are supposed to be united under.  This is strictly about the color of money!  Green!  CNN recently quoted the Congressional Budget Office that said, “If this plan goes into effect, 14 million people will lose their access to health care.  Twenty-four million more Americans will be uninsured by 2026.”

The Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc. is a five site, one stop, federally qualified health center (FQHC) delivering care in underserved communities across Erie and Niagara Counties.  Headquartered in Buffalo, they have satellite offices in Niagara Falls, Lockport, Sanborn and Cheektowaga.  Under the leadership of their CEO, Dr. Lavonne Ansari, they serve over 18,000 patients annually, 60% of which receive Medicaid, Medicare or some form government assistance and their numbers are steadily growing.   Dr. Ansari stated, “We are on the front lines of every major health crisis WNY faces.  We accept all insurances and if you don’t have insurance we have a sliding fee program that will give you a payment plan.   Our goal is to build healthy communities one patient at a time without regard for ability to pay.  None of this would be possible without Medicare and Medicaid programs.”

Community Health Centers nationally have bipartisan support because of their value and their impact.  A recent multi-state study revealed, on average Community Health Centers generate a cost savings of approximately $2,371 (or 24 percent) per Medicaid patient when compared to other providers.  The economic impact nationally is significant with community health centers employing more than 180,000 individuals, and generating over $26 billion annually in some of the nation’s most distressed communities.

Karla Thomas, Director of Outreach shared: “Our focus is on two fronts.  At the national level, there is the repeal of OBAMACARE and its replacement with the American Health Care Act which will affect our country in unprecedented numbers.  The proposal by Congress is to fund Medicaid thru block grants that are then capped at state levels.  This makes for a dangerous landscape for poor and uninsured people.  The American Health Care Act boasts lower insurance premiums, but the plan downplays its higher co-pays and deductibles.  Community Health Center leaders need to be at the table where these decisions are being made.  At the state level, we have joined with CHCANYS in asking the New York State Legislature for two things in the 2017 budget – (1) Add $20 million dollars to the Diagnostic & Treatment Center Indigent Care Fund.  This will reduce potential financial harm to NYS community health centers and other community based safety net providers, and (2) Allocate $125 million dollars of the $500 million dollar Health Care Facility Transformation Fund to community based providers.  These dollars support capital projects, staff and other projects necessary for optimal service delivery at community health centers statewide.”

“A Call to Action!”

On Friday, March 17, the Community Health Center of Buffalo Inc., CHCANYS and HEP are holding a rally/press conference to ask the community to support our funding requests for community Health Centers at the state and federal levels of government.  We want to hear from seniors and anyone who has been helped by Medicaid, Medicare or the Affordable Care Act (OBAMACARE).  The forum is free and open to the public.  All are welcome.  For more information contact Karla Thomas at 400-1817 or Bill Covington at 913-6487.

(The Community Health Center of Buffalo is located at 34 Benwood Ave. near Main St.)

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