On Thursday October 10th, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD-5) and Congresswoman Donna Shalala (D-FL-27) held a roundtable discuss improving, protecting and expanding the Affordable Care Act (ACA). A tour of the facility followed by a discussion elected officials, physicians, and patients. Hosted by the Sanitas Clinic in Kendall, patients focused on the critical importance of the ACA for people with pre-existing conditions and the importance of lowering costs, especially associated with prescriptions.
Miami-Dade County continues to lead the nation in ACA enrollees and the landmark healthcare legislation has helped drastically lower the number of uninsured residents in our community.
Noting the reliance of so many people on private healthcare providers, Cong. Shalala stated “We must figure out how to integrate public and private healthcare seamlessly.” Hoyer praised the Congresswoman and called her “one of the most qualified people to discuss healthcare” particularly because of her work as the Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Clinton Administration.
Lymphoma survivor Anya Martinez was in attendance, a 21-year old who endured the unthinkable, explaining she “never anticipated needing specialized treatments like fertility treatments or chemotherapy”. At the time of her diagnosis she had insurance through ACA (Florida Blue) under her mother’s insurance. When her mother switched jobs, she ended up being insured privately under Blue Cross Blue Shield and was thankful she was able to stay on her mom’s insurance until the age of 26. When Leader Hoyer asked Martinez if she was still on her mother’s care, she responded: “Yes. I was able to have access to healthcare because of the Affordable Care Act and get my follow-up treatments”. Congresswoman Shalala said she supported extending the age to 30, for adult children on their parents plan.
The conversation also touched upon the wellness model versus illness model. Leader Hoyer elaborated and said “We want to heal the sick but most importantly keep them healthy”. Dr. Raul Daza, an internal medicine doctor at Sanitas explained that the majority of the patients they see are insured under ACA and that a lot of people don’t have primary care doctors to see them. He also mentioned that this particular Kendall center gets about 1,600 visits a week and that they have 16 primary care providers. The center also provides social workers who offer emotional help and guidance to patients who otherwise wouldn’t have that.