Solis visits St. John’s to discuss health reform

St. John’s President & CEO Jim Mangia leads the panel discussion, with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis getting ready to speak. (Photos: Andrew Zappin, St. John’s Well Child and Family Center)

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis today joined residents and health activists to celebrate the second anniversary of President Obama’s health reform at St. John’s Well Child and Family Center’s Louis C. Frayser Health Center in South Los Angeles.

Solis was part of a panel of speakers that included health leaders and patients that discussed the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“Because of the Affordable Care Act, every single American, regardless of their circumstances will have access to affordable, quality health insurance,” said Solis during the event.

Jim Mangia, President & CEO of St. John’s Well Child and Family Center (SJWCFC), spoke about how the ACA has directly affected inner city and rural communities through significant funding for the expansion of federally qualified health centers.

Under the ACA, SJWCFC has received nearly $10 million to expand and renovate its facilities, adopt electronic health records, and open new community health centers in the poorest communities of South LA. This funding will enable the organization to provide tens of thousands additional patient visits each year.

“Here in our community, we see every day why health insurance reform was so desperately needed,” said Mangia. “We see firsthand the heartbreaking consequences when insurance companies defer treatment or deny coverage. Every day, our staff members interact with patients who couldn’t afford to see a doctor and had to go to the emergency department for something as simple as a sore throat.”

Members of the audience asked questions about how the ACA will help families reclaim their economic security, with one resident noting his family went bankrupt in order to pay his healthcare bills. Another resident told the audience and panelists that before the ACA, her insurance company denied her coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

Many patients thanked Solis for the significant expansion of community health centers under the ACA, citing that uninsured residents would not have received health services were it not for community health centers like SJWCFC and others throughout Los Angeles County.