Repeal of the ACA… So Now What Should We Do?

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Last week marked the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States. No matter your feelings about him or his politics, he’s here to stay, presumably for the next four years, alongside a Republican majority in Congress.

The first order of business?  Repealing the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), the legislation under which many of us are able to get, and afford, healthcare insurance, and access to the care we need. With the stroke of a pen, the icing on the repeal cake was completed within the first few hours of the new president taking office. Congress had already baked the cake’s layers just a few days before.

The predictions about the effect of this rollback are dire not just for those who depend on ACA insurance, but for all Americans. The non-political Congressional Budget Office estimates 18 million people may lose not just their health insurance, but their ability to get health insurance, too, amid new discussions about pre-existing conditions and high-risk pools.

We hear those politicians say they plan to improve the situation, that insurance will become more affordable, that they won’t take away the ability of Americans to access care. Lots of talk, but so far nothing that looks like a real, implementable plan. Just lots of speculation.

So what are we left with?

The status of healthcare delivery in America has never been in such a state of flux as it is today.

Whether or not you are insured through the ACA yourself, whether or not you have clients who are insured through the ACA, as health and patient advocates we have to ask ourselves, “So what should we do now? How do we help our clients? How does this change our services?”

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2017 State of Patient Advocacy and the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates

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As we kick off 2017, let’s look at the past year in review. What is the status of this profession of health and patient advocacy?  How well is APHA serving the needs of patient-clients and its members?

We began 2016 with a similar reality check.  The bottom line was that our profession is growing, but not nearly fast enough!  The need for our services is so very much larger than the number of people to fill it. That status has not improved; in fact, the need is bigger than ever before.

In that same vein, but without including the more “ancient” history that post included, here are some stats for you to peruse this year, in hopes you’ll see the need to launch your own advocacy practice (if you haven’t already done so) – or expand its scope (if you are already in practice) – in order to be there for the vast numbers of patient-clients and caregivers who need us. Continue Reading →

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What the Presidential Election Results Mean for Patient Advocates

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When President Barack Obama ran for office in 2008, healthcare reform was already an enormous and contentious topic.

In those days, I was invited to speak to dozens of groups of patients and caregivers to help audiences sort out the issues that comprised healthcare reform so they could, on their own, decide which aspects (if any) were important to them. From the concept of “universal” healthcare through a public option, to coverage for pre-existing conditions, to portability, tort reform, free vaccinations to develop “herd immunity,” and many more, we looked at the whole of the topic as objectively as possible.

Before I started each talk, I would challenge audiences to figure out which side I was on by the time we were finished – reform? or no reform? It gave me great satisfaction that a show of hands at the end usually resulted in about a 50-50 split, demonstrating as much neutrality as I had been able to muster. It was somewhat surprising, because I was very much in favor of reform and truly not objective about the subject at all.

What I never mentioned to any of my audiences was this: that the bottom line for patient advocates was that healthcare reform was, simply, job security.

The reason: no matter what became of healthcare reform (and, of course, history tells us it became Obamacare, AKA the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or the ACA) – no matter what decisions became the law of the land, Americans were going to be confused by it all. They would be confused about costs, access, costs, access, access, and of course, costs, all of which could have huge detrimental effects on their health and care.

The more confused they became, the more they would need a health or patient advocate to help out.

Thus, job security.

That brings us to the 2016 presidential race, and victory for the candidate who said he will work to repeal the ACA.

No matter what your feelings about the outcome of last week’s presidential election, there are a few things advocates can take to the bank:

  • The healthcare system will go into further upheaval as the ACA is dismantled.
  • Patients and caregivers will find themselves more confused and frustrated than they have ever been.
  • The moneymakers in the system will seek new ways to maintain and grow their own profits, shifting and being shifty, making it even more difficult for patients to get the care they need at a cost they can afford.
  • The demand for private, independent advocates will grow – even more – and there won’t be enough advocates to help the patients and caregivers who need them.
  • Yes – all this adds up to even more job security.

We can’t anticipate exactly what changes will be made, but that doesn’t really matter. People are scared and confused now – today – because they just don’t know what to expect. They didn’t know before the election and they feel even less in control now. Even through the ACA, pricing has gone up in most states, and people feel like they are getting less and less for their money. Their confusion and frustration (and anger) is going from bad to worse.

They need help. They want help.

If you are absolutely serious about growing a successful advocacy practice, then NOW is the time to prepare. There will be no better time in history to establish your practice (if you haven’t already) and to expand it (if you’re already in business.)

Here’s how.

If you are just getting started:

If you’ve been in business for awhile:

For all professional advocates:

riper

What are you waiting for?

LEARN ABOUT APHA MEMBERSHIP | FIND MORE REASONS PATIENTS NEED ADVOCATES

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The Advice That May Tick You Off

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In 2012, I blogged about this very topic. One ticked-off reader then attacked me on Twitter. A day later, both she and another member of The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates left the organization, both citing the post.

Ouch.

But it was good advice then, and it’s still good advice today. So at the risk of provoking additional readers, I’m going to wade into those waters again. Since most of us are self-employed, in the process of either starting or growing a professional practice, you’ll find that this advice will serve you very well, even if it IS maddening or frustrating to you.

Why now?  Why this timing? What is it about this time that compels me to offer this advice again?

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Happy Birthday to Us! AdvoConnection Turns 5

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birthdaypeopleDateline:  September 1, 2009
The AdvoConnection membership organization was launched on this date in an effort to find people who could help patients navigate their medical journeys.

Happy Birthday to Us!  (Yes – “us” – because the AdvoConnection Membership Organization was the original name of Alliance of Professional Health Advocates!)

My how times have changed!  (And yet, they haven’t changed much at all… )

The original site was only intended to be a directory – sort of Match.com for patients and advocates – and 30 people stepped forward to be included. (We had been collecting email addresses of interested parties since early 2007.) Many are still members of the organization today – charter members! – meaning they have been successfully providing services to patients for at least five years. (I hope that gives some of you newer folks some hope 🙂 )

My how healthcare times have changed too! (And yet, they haven’t changed much at all… )  I remember that when we launched, some pundits thought we would be no more than a short-term solution… After all, healthcare reform was approved just a few months later. That was going to fix the system! 

But of course, it not only didn’t fix the system, but if anything, it only makes what our members do even more important than ever before.

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Professionalism Ratchets Up a Notch at the 2012 NAHAC Conference

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While Superstorm Sandy made an attempt to put the kibosh on this year’s NAHAC Conference (National Association of Health Advocacy Consultants), she could not dampen the spirits, nor the passion or professionalism of this year’s gathering.

… proving, once again, that you can’t slow down this advocacy freight train.

While I understand that a handful of folks didn’t make the trip (some from storm-torn areas), the crowd was almost as large as it might have been if no storm ever tried to stand in the way.  As it turned out, at least a half-dozen folks from the NYC / NJ / Southern Connecticut area made the effort to be there because the hotel had a hot shower and internet – which they didn’t have at home (yet!)  The Hyatt was happy to accommodate.

My overall observation of the event?

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What Health Advocates Need to Know about the Affordable Care Act

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It’s official and it’s not going away.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as healthcare reform, or the ACA, is changing the face of healthcare for every American. The first changes became effective shortly after its passage in 2010.  New parts of the law will continue to be implemented until January 1, 2014 when the biggest part of the law, the individual mandate, will ensure (almost) ever American has some form of insurance or government coverage to pay for the care they need.

Are you, as an independent health advocate, prepared for those changes? Even further, are you prepared to help your clients and potential clients understand them?

Here’s why it’s important you become familiar with the new ACA law – not just for yourself, but for your practice, too:

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Advocacy, Politics and the 2012 Elections

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I’ve been in Florida for the past week, working, advocating, feeling my jaw clench and my back go up each time I’ve seen or heard a commercial or watched a newscast that focuses on one of the Republican primary candidates.  (As an aside – it’s not because they are Republican – it’s because the commercials are so nasty, denigrating, and insulting or because the candidates or their henchmen say such nasty, denigrating, insulting things about each other.)

Florida, of course, is the next primary state, to where all the candidates will  rush once the results are in from South Carolina. Even though they aren’t here yet, they have already ramped up the vitriol.  It’s not pretty. And to my ears, it’s abusive.

Since this is my first APHA – AdvoConnection blog post written during a presidential campaign, I thought it might be wise to raise the issue of the profession of health advocacy and the discussion of politics.

I have a one word piece of advice for combining the two:  DON’T.

Especially during the next 10 months when every discussion of healthcare will be colored by the national elections, trying to discuss the topic with a potential client, or even an already-client, will be dangerous at best, and may be cause for losing not just that one client, but all potential future clients affected by that one’s word-of-mouth.

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