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Your health care: It’s a matter of life, death

Casey Thomas | 2/12/2014, 7:20 p.m.
Casey Thomas

The Dallas Examiner

This past week, I was invited to attend a press conference at Paul Quinn College with U.S. House member Eddie Bernice Johnson, Dr. Juanita Wallace, president of the Dallas NAACP, Mr. Michael Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College, and Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. secretary of health and human services. The purpose of the press conference was to discuss the importance of getting information out about the Affordable Health Care Act and the initative by the Dallas NAACP to get members of the African American community enrolled in health care.

The press conference began with Sorrell. He talked about the vision to take the football field and to transform it into a farm. The area where the college is located is in the middle of a food desert. By building a farm on the campus, it has provided a much needed opportunity for the college to provide healthy eating alternatives for those who live in the neighborhood.

Next, Sorrell introduced Sebelius, who discussed the impact of health disparities on our community and the benefits of enrollment in the health care program. She was very knowledgeable of the statistics as they relate to our health nationwide as well as in the state of Texas. I was impressed that she took the time to make it known that Texas has the highest number of uninsured residents in the country and that our state Legislature and governor has refused to accept the funding being offered for Medicaid expansion.

Sebelius then introduced Johnson. As a former nurse, Johnson was able to emphasize how important it is for residents of Texas, and specifically African Americans, to get health care. Since she represents this area in Washington, D.C., she talked about the importance of local organizations and community groups going out and spreading the word about this law. She introduced Wallace, president of the Dallas NAACP.

After giving a brief history of the NAACP, Wallace went on to share with those present about the NAACP Health Care Initiative. This is a partnership between the Dallas NAACP and other community organizations to get boots on the ground to get people informed and enrolled in the ACA. Beginning Jan. 23, these organizations had an information session regarding the law at Forest Avenue Baptist Church. The event was hosted by the Metroplex Alumni Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. It was well attended and the information was very valuable. On Saturday and March 8 at Paul Quinn College, the Dallas NAACP will host a community forum on health care where attendees will have the opportunity to sign up on the spot. “The Affordable Health Care Act is a law. Just like it is a law to have car insurance. Just like it’s a law to have homeowner’s insurance. You would think that everyone would consider that having health insurance is more important than any of these other insurances,” Dr. Juanita Wallace stated.

One of the navigators, individuals trained to answer questions and to enroll individuals in health care, also spoke at the press conference. She was able to give insight into how important it is to go into the community to make sure everyone has an opportunity to enroll.

Lastly, Sebelius took questions from the press and other attendees. Many questions varied from the politics of the health care law to the diversity of navigators. At the end of the question and answer period, I was honored to meet one-on-one with Sebelius to spend about five minutes discussing how I could help get the word out about the law. She was very knowledgeable about the law and how it impacted the lives of everyday Americans. After our conversation, I am more confident than ever that there are benefits to the law to those who are most in need.

So if you have not signed up, take a minute to check out the website, HealthCare.gov, and see how you can benefit from the law. It’s truly a matter of life or death.