by George A. Zeppenfeldt-Cestero for Latina Style Magazine
It was not an oversight that when we selected the title for our upcoming 13th Annual Healthcare Diversity Awards that we chose, “The Affordable Care Act and the Role of Hispanic Leaders” instead of the role of Hispanic health care leaders. It is the responsibility of every Latino, whether a health professional, business leader or any member of the community, to insure that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) delivers its intended benefits to our community in a culturally and linguistically competent manner. Likewise, the health care workforce needs to reflect the communities it serves and make sure opportunities exist to obtain the same quality health outcomes that all Americans expect from health care. I have equally high expectations that those providers, who care for children, family members including our elderly family members, will have the tools, resources and leadership organizations to fulfill that mission. With the creation of the Roundtable of Professional Hispanic Health Associations which the Association of Hispanic Healthcare Executives (AHHE) first convened in 2008, including the National Hispanic Medical Association, the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, the Hispanic Dental Association, the Latino Medical Student Association, the National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Health and others, we are all dedicated to the mentoring of the health care workforce pipeline, supporting leadership development, health policy advocacy and inclusion in board governance.
When I look at the leadership profile in these areas, it is apparent that women are increasingly taking leadership roles and responsibilities. We all know that there are more women than ever in the workforce, although more attention has to be given to their presence in the Chief Executive Officer Suite (C-suite.) In addition to their traditional roles, women are also income earners and leaders. Women are in a unique position to educate the community as to the importance of mentorship and leadership. I am inspired by my soon to be 90 year old mother, Belen Cestero, who continues to volunteer at her senior center, serves on their advisory council, and says, “Eat yucca, get preventive care, and exercise daily.” She can still discuss with me the latest topic on Meet the Press.
The ACA gives the states resources to offer the Small Business Option Program (SHOP) which was developed to assist small business employers identify private healthcare insurance options in the Marketplace for their employees. These private health insurance plans are available in the Marketplace where individuals and small businesses may shop and purchase affordable health care insurance. It is known that small business owners pay more for healthcare insurance due to not having sufficient buying power; thus, the ACA will assist by providing tax credits to qualifying employers. An employer with up to 25 full-time or full-time equivalent employees with annual wages of less than $50,000, may receive up to a 35% tax credit and up to 25% for non-profit companies for providing 50% of their employees’ health care insurance premiums. The employers may start to enroll on October 1, 2013 with the coverage beginning on January 1, 2014. For state- specific SHOP information: http://www.healthcare.gov/marketplace/about/state-marketplace/index.html
Included in the ACA is the “health navigators” which will provide outreach and enrollment services to the community. We need to be engaged with those serving as health navigators to guarantee that no one is left behind. Equally, we have to participate with business associations, such as Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, in our communities to insure that women, minority and veteran-owned companies obtain all support under the ACA including supplier diversity opportunities within the health industries. The National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Health is working with hospital trade associations and the pharmaceutical industry, to insure those opportunities.