NASW applauds passage of the historic health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and recognizes the 6 month anniversary since the bill was signed into law. Enactment of the Affordable Care Act on March 23, 2010 was an important step forward in the fight to secure health care for all Americans especially, the most vulnerable populations. Provisions in the health care reform law – including expansion of Medicaid, increased funding for prevention, the creation of state-based health insurance exchanges, as well as the enactment of numerous regulatory checks on the insurance industry – will improve access to care for all Americans.
NASW has long advocated for an universal right to insurance coverage to ensure a continuum of health and behavioral health services throughout all stages of the life cycle. In addition, behavioral health services must be provided at parity levels with other medical and surgical services. Specifically for the professions of social work, the Affordable Care Act:
- Commits to a stronger health care workforce that includes social workers,
- Establishes a national commission tasked with reviewing health care workforce and projected workforce needs;
- Establishes social work professional education and training grants,
- Creates geriatric education and training grants and career awards;
- Establishes State health care workforce development grants,
- Impacts SW Practice/Payments and delivery systems reform;
- Establishes health and behavioral health workforce loan repayment programs,
- Expands health insurance coverage to 32 million Americans and guarantees that 95 percent of Americans will be covered;
- Prohibits exclusions of coverage for pre-existing conditions;
- Creates a high-risk pool to provide immediate assistance to those currently uninsured; and
- Allows young adults to stay on their parents’ health care plan until age 26.
Already NASW advocacy is focused on working with Congress and the Administration on the implementation and regulatory phase of the ACA and to ensure that the needs of vulnerable populations are met.