Warm air greeted greeted us in Omaha, Nebraska on Friday as I arrived from Boston to set up for our first Pulse on the Road workshop of 2014. POTR is a three our workshop, sponsored by Baxter Healthcare and held in tandem with the National Hemophilia Foundation, which so generously lends us the incomparable Michelle Rice, mother of two adult sons with hemophilia, and director of public policy at NHF. Last year she hired more staff to help her, as she is stretched thin visiting chapters, patients, insurance companies and governments in all 50 states. On this trip we were thrilled to have Nicole Quinn-Gato of NHF, also a policy specialist, accompany Michelle.
The warm welcome by Nebraska Chapter of NHF executive director Kristi Harvey-Simi was followed by an update on the Affordable Care Act by Kim Isenberg, Senior Manager, Reimbursement and Advocacy, Baxter Healthcare. She covered the ACA in general and as it affects hemophilia, noting exceptions for some groups. Nevada has elected not to expand state Medicaid, an important policy to note.
I then presented important points on the importance of choosing
healthcare, since it is now mandated that almost everyone have healthcare. We
need to still watch out for certain variables, such as out of pocket costs,
which may increase as a result of changing policies and plans.
And finally, Michelle and Nicole did a great job proving a 90-minute, hands-on workshop to access the healthcare.gov website, using laptops and iPads, and actually logging on to scope out choosing a plan! It was interesting and frustrating at times! Sometimes it’s hard to find your HTC, was the most common problem.
After lunch there was a Q&A, where the audience could ask questions of the experts.
Though I offered everyone a chance to go home an hour earlier, nobody took advantage: I think they were really soaking up all the information Michelle, Nicole and Kim had to offer!