Walk into any medical center in the East Bay today and you can see change is afoot. Kaiser, Sutter and Highland are all undergoing major seismic retrofits, Alameda County Medical Center is now called Alameda Health System and Children’s Hospital is planning a retrofit and expansion scheduled to open in 2019. Hospitals and clinics are also adding and adjusting services to accommodate the shifting needs of residents and businesses.

To help residents make sense of these changes, Supervisor Keith Carson hosted a free event called “Take Charge of Your Health” this past Saturday, September 21, 2013 at Oakland Technical High School. More than 250 residents attended.

“In addition to the new construction, our hospitals and clinics are adjusting to changes that come with health care reform and the County is engaged in an unprecedented outreach effort to enroll nearly 200,000 previously uninsured Alameda County residents,” Supervisor Carson noted in his opening remarks.

Many of those residents will be newly eligible for Medi-Cal or subsidized insurance plans through Covered California, the new health benefits exchange established after the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Enrollment starts on October 1, 2013 and coverage begins on January 1, 2014.

In her keynote address, Debbie LeVeen, professor emeritus at San Francisco State University, praised the ACA for enshrining into law “progressive ideals that guarantee access for all” and deemed “revolutionary” some of the key provisions, such as the elimination of lifetime limits on benefits and the prohibition on denying coverage to those who are sick.

A panel of experts discussed how health care is delivered today in the East Bay and what it will look like in five years. The panel included leaders from the Alameda-Contra Costa Medical Association, Alameda County Community Clinic Consortium, Alameda Health System, Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland and Kaiser Permanente.

The panelists emphasized the need for collaboration and discussed plans to add new satellite locations and the challenges of bringing on new providers in anticipation of the increase in the number of clients accessing services in Alameda County. “We are all focused on how to reduce costs and how to improve the efficiency of our service delivery,” said Wright Lassiter III, CEO of Alameda Health System.

Attendees lined up to ask questions about how to communicate electronically with their doctors, where small business owners can find resources for providing health insurance to employees, and whether MediCal benefits will change. Information booths and workshops connected attendees with resources about small businesses and the ACA, Medi-Cal enrollment, how to purchase health insurance through Covered California, health care reform and Medicare and the impact of health care reform on women.

The event was co-sponsored by Alameda Alliance for Health, Alameda Health System, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Children’s Hospital, The Community Health Center Network, Corizon, Kaiser Permanente and Paramedics Plus.

Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson represents the Fifth District, which includes Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Piedmont, and parts of Oakland (North Oakland, Rockridge, Grand Lake, Fruitvale, and Dimond District neighborhoods). For more information about District 5 and Supervisor Keith Carson, please call (510) 272-6695 or visit http://www.acgov.org/board/district5.

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland. See our guidelines.

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One Response

  1. Monica Aguilar

    A great synopsis of this event and an overview of the County’s ACA efforts.

    One correction: Alameda County Medical Center [is] now called Alameda Health System…is planning a retrofit and expansion scheduled to open in 2017 — not 2019.

    Please see ATR site for more information: http://bit.ly/14M9aU4

    Reply

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