We must work together on health care
Last week, Adirondack Foundation's Birth to Three Alliance held its third annual meeting with over 60 participants working across our region to make sure all kids have the chance to grow into thriving adults and contribute to their communities.
Also last week, Senate Republican leaders unveiled H.R. 1628, the legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. This legislation will have a disproportionately harsh impact upon our region, particularly our vulnerable neighbors. These are the very people that Adirondack Foundation has identified for targeted philanthropic giving, with emphasis on young children between the ages of 0-3 and seniors.
We recognize that each state in our union implemented the Affordable Care Act differently and applaud New York State for taking full advantage of the federal legislation that would help its residents. And help it did. According to the New York State Department of Health, the percentage of people covered by government insurance in our region is high-this includes Medicaid and Medicare. In the five counties that Adirondack Foundation serves, 29 percent of our community members are Medicaid beneficiaries and 23 percent are Medicare beneficiaries.
The current and future health of over 50 percent of our neighbors is at risk if caps are put on federal government insurance. It is very challenging for small businesses to provide health insurance for their employees. The North Country economy is comprised mainly of these types of innovative, small employers. As we strive toward healthy communities and good health care, coverage is perhaps the most important component for the majority of our residents.
In 2007, 19 percent of the residents of Essex County were uninsured. In 2014, that percentage had been reduced to 9 percent, according to the most recent data available from NYSDOH. It is likely that this has continued to improve in recent years. Studies show that health outcomes are far better and length of life is longer for those with health insurance. Let's not lose the gains we have made, or lose sight of the goal: improving the quality of life for residents of the Adirondacks.
Partisanship is not an ally in this all-important legislation for our nation and our region. We hope that government officials from both parties will work together for the best outcome for all. While that seems like a pipe dream now, it is up to everyone to call upon our representatives to make it real.
-- Cali Brooks, President & CEO, Adirondack Foundation