Director's Corner: Marching Forward

  | by Ann Hwang, MD   |  SHARE f t
Director's Corner: Marching Forward

In these days of uncertainty, I wanted to acknowledge how much COVID-19 has disrupted each of our work and lives. As a primary care physician, I am particularly cognizant of how much this illness affects people with complex health and social needs, such as older adults, people with chronic health conditions and people experiencing homelessness. The battle against the novel coronavirus reminds us yet again, in a stark and challenging way, why our goal of universal, affordable, equitable and quality health care for everyone is so important. The health and well-being of each one of us is deeply intertwined with those of everyone in our local – and global – community.  

It is with that sobering reminder that we approach this month, which for all of us at Community Catalyst, is a month of memories and commemoration. We started the month with a remembrance of Rob Restuccia, our founding executive director, who died on March 3 of last year. If you haven’t already, please take a moment to watch this short video with Dara Taylor, director of diversity, equity and inclusion, reflecting on how our organization is moving Rob’s legacy forward. 

This March 23 is also the 10th anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act. A special issue of Health Affairs examines three big questions: did it improve access to care, did it improve health and did it bend the cost curve? (The answers: a resounding yes, probably and don’t know). The ACA also decreased, but did not eliminate, racial and ethnic health disparities in coverage and access. Community Catalyst will be releasing a number of materials related to the ACA anniversary, and how important the law has been for millions across the country – stay tuned. 

We believe the best way to build on Rob’s legacy and to realize the promise of the ACA is to continue the march toward universal, affordable, equitable and quality health care. To that end, we’re pleased to celebrate some important work being done by our team and by partner organizations. 

First, our team is pleased to share our new advocacy guide with recommendations for what to look for when Uber and Lyft want to provide Non-Emergency Medical Transportation services to Medicaid beneficiaries in your state.  

Second, we have created a new web page that lays out our principles and approaches to consumer engagement. We hope this framework for how we see health care organizations meaningfully engaging consumers can help organizations move toward the authentic, transformational engagement that can powerfully change lives and programs.  

From Maine, we share an update on the ongoing efforts of Maine People’s Alliance to expand access for older adults and people with disabilities to the state’s Medicaid Non-Emergency Medical Transportation benefit, as well as their and work to shorten the waiting list time for people seeking access to Home and Community based services in the state. 

Congratulations to Massachusetts Senior Action Council, whose grassroots organizing efforts to close “the SNAP gap” now makes it easier for low-income residents to access food assistance when they enroll in Medicaid.  

From Colorado, check out this article about how providing coverage for regular dialysis treatments for undocumented people saves live and money, featuring the important work of our state advocacy partner, Colorado Health Progress.   

And finally, a heartfelt Congratulations to our longtime partner in Maryland, Vinny DeMarco, President of the Maryland Citizen’s Health Initiative, on being awarded the very meaningful 2020 “Andy Hyman Award for Advocacy” by Grantmakers In Health, which you can read more about below. 

Thank you for all that the important work that you are doing, and please take good care of your own health and the health of your families, communities and colleagues. Like many of you, we are adapting to doing more work remotely and monitoring developments closely. For our advocacy partners, if we can support you in shifting to virtual organizing strategies or if you need to adjust any project activities, please don’t hesitate to contact us.  

As we have always known, we are strongest when we lean on each other and pull together.