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Social workers serve on health insurance marketplace committees

By Paul R. Pace, News staff

Social workers are doing their part to help shape their states’ health insurance marketplaces, formerly known as health insurance exchanges.

A key component of the Affordable Care Act, health insurance marketplaces are being constructed so individuals and small businesses can shop for coverage.

As of May 2, 17 states and the District of Columbia were expected to operate state-based marketplaces, seven states were planning for a state-federal partnership marketplace and 26 states will default to the federal health insurance marketplace, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

At state-run marketplaces, committees are being created to provide oversight. Social workers are raising their hands to serve on these important groups.

Social worker Karin Moran, director of policy at the NASW New York State Chapter, is serving as a regional advisory member for one of the five committees established in the state, which is separated by region.

Each committee will provide advice and make recommendations on the establishment and operation of the health insurance marketplace, including factors that are relevant to the region.

As a social worker, Moran said she is representing and advocating on behalf of the profession.

“I see my role on the committee as a representative of the social work profession and as such, have taken every opportunity available to advocate that social workers play a strong role in the development and implementation of the (marketplace),” she said.

Another social worker serving his state for the health insurance marketplace is Jordan Wildermuth, the executive director of the NASW Kentucky Chapter. He is serving on the state’s behavioral health benefits subcommittee.

He said mental health and substance abuse services, including behavioral health treatment, are among the essential benefits to be provided by qualified health plans. His subcommittee will review and make recommendations on policy issues related to the provision of mental health and substance abuse services.

“It is important for me to be involved because this is a major move politically for the commonwealth of Kentucky and there is great opportunity to improve health outcomes,” Wildermuth said. “My main concern was that through this process only the insurance companies and primary care doctors would be involved and I wanted to make sure that we had a seat at the table.”

From the June 2013 NASW News. NASW members can read the full story after logging in.

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