The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often referred to simply as the ACA or Obamacare, was signed into law on March 23, 2010. The ACA is intended to expand access to health insurance coverage for millions of uninsured Americans by expanding eligibility for Medicaid and developing health insurance marketplaces where uninsured persons may be eligible for subsidies to make private health plans more affordable. While expanding access to health insurance is a big part of the ACA, there are many other purposes of the law, including provisions intended to reform the health care delivery system to produce better patient outcomes at lower cost.
AOTA was very active in the legislative process leading up to the passage and signing of the ACA, working to achieve victories such as inclusion of rehabilitation and habilitation in the essential health benefits package. AOTA has also been monitorting the regulatory process at the federal and state levels as the ACA has been implemented, and has been advocating for occupational therapy practitioners and consumers. The dynamic environment created by health care reform creates opportunities, but vigilant monitoring of implementation activities and carefully executed advocacy efforts are necessary to ensure occupational therapy is valued and protected in the future.
Please also see the Health Care Reform Implementation page on AOTA's website at: http://www.aota.org/Advocacy-Policy/Health-Care-Reform.aspx
Recent blog posting on Health Affairs:
Empathy: The First Step To Improving Health Outcomes
Here is a key quote: "Health care providers have a unique opportunity to improve patient health outcomes by practicing empathy for their patients and complex life circumstances. Empathy is defined as, 'the ability to understand and share the feelings of another,' and studies have shown that empathy is an important skill for health care providers and is significantly associated with improved clinical outcomes."
Full article: http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2014/02/25/empathy-the-first-step-to-improving-health-outcomes/#more-37133
The use of empathy is integral to occuapational therapy practice. This will be an important value to highlight as we promote new roles for OT in the changing health care delivery system.