How the Affordable Care Act Could Impact Florida & the Role for Philanthropy

On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law. The ACA law is likely to touch the lives of virtually every Floridian, but key elements of the law are unknown to many and poorly understood by others – due in large part to the law’s complexity.

That’s one reason why Florida Philanthropic Network has just released a report that provides a clear, concise and independent overview of how the ACA is likely to impact the lives of Floridians, and suggests key roles for philanthropy to play as the ACA is implemented in the state. We hope the report will help raise the level of awareness and understanding of the ACA and its potential impacts, so that we can help ensure the most positive health outcomes for our communities and our state.

We commissioned a University of Florida health services research team to write the paper, led by Dr. R. Paul Duncan, a nationally prominent health services researcher. The paper describes the underlying policy issues that the ACA is intended to address; outlines the key elements of the law; details ACA issues of particular salience in Florida; and outlines several important roles that philanthropy can play as the ACA begins to be implemented in Florida:

  • Educating the General Public and Key Stakeholders. The health-care reform law is complex and will profoundly impact health-care delivery. Yet the public, including policymakers and key stakeholders, lack knowledge about specific reform elements and their potential impacts. Philanthropic activities in Florida could focus on engaging in educational activities around what people need to know about the ACA.
  • Programmatic Interventions. Local/regional philanthropic organizations could work towards developing programs and interventions that complement and support the implementation of the ACA. One example is the need for navigational support to help consumers obtain the services they need (e.g., selection of health plans under the Exchanges, or Medicare Part D plans).
  • Needs Assessments and Evaluations. If implemented as envisioned, the ACA will improve financial access to health care, mental health, and long-term care services. The impact of this legislation on existing delivery infrastructure is unclear. To facilitate planning and redesign of the delivery system, a critical assessment of the health, mental health, and long-term care workforce and access points is warranted. Local/regional philanthropic organizations could focus on conducting such assessments and disseminating the findings to appropriate partners and stakeholders.

FPN led development of the paper on behalf of our Health Funders Group (HFG), which is comprised of FPN members who share an interest in supporting health issues, organizations and needs in Florida. Current HFG members include: Allegany Franciscan Ministries, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, Florida Blue Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Health Foundation of South Florida, Jessie Ball duPont Fund, Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation, Palm Healthcare Foundation, Quantum Foundation, Space Coast Health Foundation and Winter Park Health Foundation. FPN would like to thank all of the HFG members who provided input to the report, and to the Quantum Foundation for providing financial support for the project.

The publication of this ACA white paper demonstrates how philanthropy can play a vital role in providing nonpartisan research and knowledge to inform important policy issues for Florida. We hope the report will help strengthen discussions and decisions in Florida regarding the ACA’s implementation in our state, and will help inform the work of any grantmakers who are interested in Florida’s health.

For more information or to download the report, please visit FPN’s website.

– David Biemesderfer, President & CEO, Florida Philanthropic Network

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