By Gabriel Pilonieta-Blanco
El Tiempo Hispano
Many of us are confused about how the new law requiring everyone in America to have health insurance will work, so we decided to talk to Delaware’s Secretary of Health and Social Services, Rita Landgraf, on how the health insurance market functions in Delaware, and what will happen to those who were excluded from it: the undocumented.
Secretary Landgraf is an affable woman, with enormous patience, who explains each point with great passion and with perfect diction.
She starts the conversation by saying that “We are very pleased to be part of this historic moment, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and provide health insurance to the majority of the population. We know there is a gap with people who are in this country undocumented. Here in Delaware, what we will be able to do is use our health care system to address that gap, even if those people (individuals) cannot have access to health insurance because they are undocumented.”
“That is why we are very pleased to know that the uninsured will have access to health insurance, and just as we recognize that there is a group of people who cannot be insured because the law does not include that segment of the population, we are looking at programs we offer here at the Department of Health and Social Services and see how we can put something together to bridge that gap, without them having to sacrifice their health for lack of insurance.”
How will you do that?
“Delaware has been actually the lead in this matter. Before the law was in place, we were looking for ways to provide health services to the uninsured. We have programs like CHAP (Community Health Access Program) which was created so that those who are uninsured receive treatment and care.
“We have a partnership called VIP with the Delaware Medical Society that reduces rates for people to have access to services of the physicians in their network. And we also have Screening for Life through the Cancer Consortium, offering cancer screenings for people who do not have health insurance in addition to treatment for up to two years.
“We have decided to keep these programs, even though many of those who use them will have access to health insurance, to serve those who cannot afford insurance because they were not covered by the Affordable Care Act.”
“For me as a public official, I want everybody to have access. As a public health official, I believe that it is extremely critical and important that people have access to health care. And that is why we are very supportive of the Affordable Care Act in allowing those even with preexisting conditions and couldn’t afford health insurance, allowing even our younger population who consider themselves extremely healthy but many times they don’t know what is around the corner: it could be an injury, or a disease.
“It is significantly important that they also attain health insurance, and then really concentrate in that gap relative to the population base, and how we can redesign the program that we already have in play for individuals who were uninsured to better meet the needs of that gap population.”
What is the philosophy behind this…