Happy 5th Birthday, Affordable Care Act—LA Celebrates, Highlights Work Still Left to Do

This blog entry was written by Nancy Gomez, Health Access’ Southern California Program Director

On Monday March 23rd Health Access gathered with key partners, health care consumers, and elected officials in Los Angeles to celebrate the 5th Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. Approximately 70 people enjoyed the celebration and press conference (and, let’s not forget, cake).photo2_LASpeakers included:

  • Joan Pirkle Smith, Health Access California Board Chair (and event MC) kicked off the celebration with an overview of Health Access’ just published ACA 5th Anniversary Report. The report, a collaboration involving many coalition and community partners, describes implementation, impacts, and needed improvements going forward.
  • LA Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas spoke of the accomplishments of the ACA nationally, statewide, and countywide, including the continued efforts of My Health LA, the LA County program that has already enrolled over 75,000 people including the undocumented. He also addressed the need to address access issues and disparities that still remain and that disproportionately impact immigrant and under-served communities.
  • Celinda Milagros Vazquez, Planned Parenthood LA’s VP of Public Affairs, described the many benefits of the ACA for women, in particular reproductive rights, and highlighted the work of community Promotoras (community health workers).
  • Spike Dolomite Ward, a health care consumer, shared her personal story of going uninsured simply because she was self employed, only to find herself at a loss hearing the news from her doctor: Stage 4 breast cancer. The ACA “saved my life,” she shared, because she was able to enroll in the PCIP (Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program) which ultimately provided her with the life-saving treatment she needed before Covered California first opened for enrollment in October of 2013.
  • Dr. Rishi Manchanda of the National Physicians Alliance spoke about being able to provide care to previously uninsured patients and highlighted the new consumer protections, no-cost preventive care, and other positive changes of the ACA. He also underscored the need to expand Medi-Cal for the undocumented population.
  • Gustavo Herrera, California Director of the Young Invincibles, outlined the successes of the ACA for people 18 to 32, the affordability options, and current advocacy priorities for the Young Invincibles.
  • Astrid Campos, Campaign Manager for the Children’s Partnership, touched on the ACA’s many benefits and coverage options for children and the work that still needs to be done to ensure 100% coverage for ALL children in California.
  • Riana King, Health Care Consumer (Young Invincibles), shared her personal story of being diagnosed and treated for her Crohn’s disease and her deep appreciation to the ACA for allowing her to remain covered under her parent’s insurance plan, which made it possible for her to have the surgery she desperately needed and the lifelong treatment she will require.
  • California Immigrant Policy Center Executive Director Reshma Shamasunder, described the benefits of the ACA for communities of color and the work that still needs to be done in terms of SB4 (#Health4All) and and the need to provide care for the underserved and under-represented.

The event also included an awards ceremony recognizing the role of the state’s elected officials in the state’s success to date on the ACA. Each of the following state leaders were honored with “Health Care Champion Award” plaques:

  • Members of Congress:  Adam Schiff, Judy Chu, and Karen Bass
  • Senators:  Ricardo Lara, Ed Hernández, Holly Mitchell
  • Assemblymember:  Jimmy Gomez

Many of our friends and partners participated in the planning of the event including:

  • Planned Parenthood Los Angeles
  • Children’s Defense Fund, California Chapter
  • Children Now
  • California Partnership
  • Children’s Partnership
  • California Immigrant Policy Center
  • Young Invincibles


Thank you again to all who joined our celebration and pledged to continue their advocacy and support around SB4 and securing coverage for all.

Please see photos of our event here: https://www.facebook.com/rblwcuz/media_set?set=a.10206477330519928&type=1

Some of the press coverage included: