September 21, 2014

Health care activists gather in DC focusing on uninsured

About one in ten Nebraskans don’t have health insurance, and a Midwest health care activist is in Washington D-C for this week’s Families USA conference.

Karen Metcalf, spokeswoman for Progressive Action for the Common Good, says the 18th annual summit is gathering hundreds of health care experts, advocates and professionals from across the nation.

Metcalf says, “It’s been the premiere organization nationally to try to engage people at all levels, be they political, grassroots, health care providers, whatever, to work toward more broad health care coverage, health care justice, health care fairness.”

Reports say more than 156,000 Nebraskans don’t have health insurance, about 11% of the state’s population. Studies find Nebraska’s rural counties have lower health insurance coverage rates than urban counties, especially for residents under 65.

Workshops at the Families USA event are focused on the ongoing implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act, particularly the problems with expanding Medicaid in the states, as well as other aspects of health care delivery to Americans of all ages.

Metcalf says, “There are going to be challenges with getting people who are currently healthy, young people in particular, to understand it’s better to be insured than to pay the very minimal penalty that is in the law.”

She says that will be the subject of an educational campaign later this year, aiming to convince everyone to get at least some health care coverage.

“It’s certainly going to be a work in progress and there are going to be challenges moving forward,” Metcalf says. “I think we’re going to see a sea change come 2014 in terms of how people look at each other. They will begin to see that we’re all in this together rather than we’re all individuals fighting a system.”

The conference in the nation’s capital opened Thursday and runs through Saturday.

Learn more at: www.familiesusa.org