By Delia Pompa, Senior Vice President, Programs, NCLR
(Originally posted to the Campaign for Modern Medicines blog)
In a couple of days, NCLR will host thousands of Latinos in New Orleans for its 2013 Annual Conference where we will discuss the most pressing issues of the day for the Latino community. For the second year in a row, we will place a special emphasis on health care through the NCLR Health Summit, which kicks off today in advance of the conference, thanks to the generous support from Eli Lilly and the Campaign for Modern Medicines.
The NCLR Health Summit is a crucial component of NCLR’s efforts to foster meaningful discussions about an issue that is vitally important to the Latino community. As we strive to support and disseminate programs that empower Latinos with the tools and information to foster healthy families, the Health Summit provides a forum for community-based practitioners to engage with other stakeholders and share best practices and concerns about issues that affect all of them.
This year, as the country begins the implementation phase of the Affordable Care Act, the conversations that will take place at the Health Summit are especially critical. The historic law expands health care for millions of Americans, including six million Latinos. We expect the rate of uninsured Latinos to drop from one-third to about one-fifth. When the market exchanges open on October 1, it will be the first time that many uninsured Americans go through the process of choosing a health insurance plan that fits their needs. But for many in the Latino community this will be an especially daunting process, as they struggle to not only understand what the law means but also confront distinct challenges including language barriers, mixed-immigration-status families, and nontraditional households. For this legislation to be successful, it is of utmost importance that the necessary measures are taken to ensure that Latinos can fully participate in the program.
Over the next two days, the NCLR Health Summit will focus entirely on what implementation means for Latinos and the role our Affiliate organizations across the country need to play to adequately prepare them to participate. Attendees will hear from officials in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, industry experts, and NCLR Affiliates who already have best practices to share about preparing for implementation. We will share a variety of perspectives on what might work in our respective communities as well as highlight communications strategies that can help community organizations maximize their reach. Without the active engagement of community-based organizations like those in the NCLR Affiliate network, the prospects of high Latino participation rates are greatly diminished. Thus, by Summit’s end, we look to have improved not only our knowledge of what the implementation of Affordable Care Act will mean but what participants can do on the ground to ensure Latinos are adequately informed and prepared.
Visit www.nclr.org to find out more about the Health Summit and the 2013 NCLR Annual Conference. Also check out the Health Summit Facebook group for the most up-to-date information about this exciting event.