Healthcare Reform: An Anniversary and A Call for Vigilance

Health Access’ Affordable Care Act 5th Anniversary CelebrationSupervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas joined healthcare advocates in marking the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act with celebration and a call for vigilance.

He warned opponents remain determined to undo President Barack Obama’s signature piece of legislation, which has given more Americans access to affordable and high-quality health insurance than ever before.

“This should be a time when we are celebrating but, in reality, the Affordable Care Act is under attack,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said in a news conference at Planned Parenthood.

Signed into law on March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, expands the affordability, quality, and availability of private and public health insurance through consumer protections, regulations, subsidies, taxes, insurance exchanges and other reforms.

The Supreme Court upheld the ACA on June 28, 2012. However, a new legal challenge – “King V Burwell” – could block certain states from receiving the ACA subsidies that make healthcare affordable, resulting in millions of Americans becoming uninsured.

Meanwhile, congressional Republicans who have already failed more than 50 times to repeal the ACA are now proposing a federal budget for 2016 that would not only repeal the law but also partly privatize Medicare and slash Medicaid funding.

Health Access’ Affordable Care Act 5th Anniversary Celebration

“If these cuts take place, they would have huge potential impacts to the county,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “We have to work hard to make sure this doesn’t become a reality because the people I represent and those in the rest of LA County need health care coverage.”

Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles vice president of public affairs Celinda Vazquez hailed the ACA as “one of the greatest health care advancements in our era – and the single biggest advancement for women’s health in generations.”

She noted, however, that California’s reimbursement rates for providers who treat MediCal patients ranks 49th in the nation. “Unless we have enough providers willing and able to care for these newly-insured people, we will not be able to realize the full potential of the ACA,” Ms. Vasquez said.

Thanks to the ACA, more than 60 percent of previously uninsured adults in California have healthcare coverage as of July 2014.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said the county is working to have the remainder obtain coverage under the program My Health LA, in collaboration with the Community Clinic Association and a network of advocacy and consumer groups. He also wants to expand school-based health clinics.

Health Access’ Affordable Care Act 5th Anniversary Celebration

Message from MRT, December 2014

Welcome to the December 2014 Newsletter. It’s a new day in LA County! This week, Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl were sworn in to the first and third districts respectively, and the county also welcomed Sheriff Jim McDonnell and Assessor Jeffrey Prang.

And the work of the Board continues. There has been recent progress when it comes to child sex trafficking. I would like to commend Senator Dianne Feinstein for helping to introduce the Combat Human Trafficking Act, which was introduced recently in the United States Senate.

Well, for the first time, CicLAvia is making its way to South Los Angeles. The community event allows bicyclists and pedestrians to rule the road. This Sunday, December 7, stroll or pedal through the streets without competing for space with cars, trucks or vans. CicLAvia fosters healthy habits, green transportation, and community engagement all while promoting local food and culture and helping boost local businesses.

Lastly, registration for January’s Empowerment Congress Summit will soon be available, so be sure to check back on our website for details. The noted and notable Dr. Cornell West will be the featured speaker, and you won’t want to miss him. In the meantime, Happy Holidays to you and yours, and have a safe and happy New Year celebration. I look forward to seeing you again in 2015.

With hope,

Message from MRT, November 2014

Welcome to the November 2014 Newsletter. We brought it to you here first some time back, and now Rail to River is moving forward. But Rail to River is not the only transit project moving forward. Construction continues along Crenshaw Boulevard in our journey to bring a light rail line to the heart of our community. Progress is exciting, but not free. Street closures will continue to impact local traffic this month. Be sure to plan ahead to avoid traffic delays.

Well, in our continued efforts to combat sex trafficking, Los Angeles county is backing the city of Los Angeles in its fight to crack down on motels and hotels that are magnets for criminal activity. This is an important initiative to help clean up our neighborhoods, develop our communities, and eliminate blight.

And the good news continues. Thomas Jefferson Elementary and Ardella B. Tibby Elementary Schools recently received a National Blue Ribbon School Award, the most prestigious award in education from the U.S. Department of Education. In doing so, they made history, becoming the first schools in the Compton Unified School District to receive national acknowledgment of their overall academic excellence.

Lastly, where will you be for MLK weekend 2015? As 2015 approaches, we are now hard at work preparing an inspiring 23rd Annual Empowerment Congress Summit for you. This year will feature a keynote from the insightful and outspoken, provocative culture critic and professor, Dr. Cornel West. Be sure to mark your calendars to be part of history on MLK weekend on Saturday, January 17, 2015. Thank you for your attention, and an early Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

With hope,

Message from MRT, October 2014

This month, we devote much of our newsletter to health and wellbeing. Once again Los Angeles hosted the region’s largest free health clinic – Care Harbor LA. Many thanks to the hundreds of doctors, dentists, nurses and other volunteers who made this year’s event such a success.

Well, our most vulnerable children simply deserve to grow up with the ability to meet their basic human needs. To that end our office has supported the work of a collaborative set up to do just that. And last week the collaborative unveiled a strategic plan recognizing the need for our young people to have permanent solutions such as housing, access to a shower, clean clothes, and support in seeking employment. Though much work remains, the plan is a significant step forward for the collaborative and a demonstration that our homeless children are not without hope.

And on the subject of hope, our fight against sex trafficking is hopeful and our commitment to our most vulnerable children remains strong. Last week we launched an awareness campaign against human trafficking in the greater Los Angeles area. These billboards will help spread the word, will educate and raise awareness so that victims know they are not alone and that there is a way out.

Lastly, do you know what to do in the event of a disaster? Being prepared is the first step to securing your wellbeing when unpredictable emergencies occur. It’s about putting safety first. If we can help prepare one resident, we have the opportunity to save a life. Thank you for your attention, and I look forward to seeing you again in November.

With hope,

Message from MRT, September 2014

This month, we have opened the doors to the new Mental Health Urgent Care Center on the MLK Campus in Willowbrook. Individuals who have a mental illness and are detained by police, may be brought to the Center for evaluation, stabilization and diversion into treatment programs. These services go a long way toward saving taxpayer dollars and effectively keeping people out of jail.

On the subject of providing support and treatment for people who might otherwise fall through the holes of our social safety net, the newly built Terracina Apartments offer affordable housing in Athens complete with mental health services and financial, social and educational services. Also delivering affordable housing, Jefferson Park Terrace on a 35,375 sq ft lot recently opened on South Western Ave and West Jefferson Blvd.

Affordable services do not stop with housing, but extend to free health care for all with the Care Harbor LA free clinic returning to the Los Angeles Sports Arena on September 11 – 14. Wristbands will be distributed on Sunday, September 7th. Gates open at 7 a.m. Distribution of wristbands begins at 9 a.m. Be sure to arrive early.

Well, it is our job to protect our most vulnerable children. And few fit that category more than the children who are being bought and sold on the streets of L.A. County for sex. Los Angeles County is moving forward to strengthen the safety net for children who have been victims of sex trafficking.

Lastly, we continue to deliver job support at our new Lennox Library and Constituent Service Center with a bimonthly job search workshop called Job Club. The workshop aims to help those who are underemployed, unemployed or starting in a new career by offering resources and employer referrals as well as job training opportunities. Thank you for your attention, and I look forward to seeing you again in October.

With hope,