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Sharing What Health Reform Means for Local Communities

Alexia Kelley, Director for the Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Center at HHS, writes about a recent outreach meeting to faith leaders hosted by Congressman Elijah Cummings.

The White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, along with the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at HHS (the Partnership Center), recently participated in a Legislative Town Hall for faith leaders on the Affordable Care Act, sponsored by Congressman Elijah Cummings. Congressman Cummings also moderated the event at Coppin State University in Baltimore, MD. He shared his own family’s experience with health care and his vote for the Affordable Care Act.

Many of the faith leaders who attended the event in Baltimore are active in community health outreach efforts. White House Office Executive Director Joshua DuBois gave an overview of the work and mission of the White House Office, and I shared an overview of the HHS Partnership Center. We then dialogued with the participants, many of whom shared their observations about health care challenges in their communities.

A panel discussion followed on what health reform means right now and down the road for communities. HHS Regional Director Joanne Grossi presented an overview of the Affordable Care Act. Frances Phillips, Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, talked about the work of Maryland’s Health Care Reform Coordinating Council, which is engaging the public and taking the input of community members in order to make recommendations around health reform implementation in Maryland.

A highlight of the event was the “tour” a member of the HHS web team gave the audience of the newly-launched, a user-friendly, one-stop shop where visitors can find answers to a variety of health care questions. As part of the presentation, community leaders shared stories about people in their communities with health care needs. With each person’s profile, the HHS web presenter used the new “insurance finder” to search for available health care options for each person, including private insurance plans and community services.

 Alexia Kelley is the Director of the Department of Health and Human Services Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.