Ensuring that Health Reform Reaches Vulnerable Populations

“Between now and 2016 is the most important time I can think of. We are at the cusp of great progress and inches away from a cliff.”—Project Director Leo Cuello, JD

Dates of Project: November 2010–November 2012

Field of Work: Expanding coverage for vulnerable populations

Problem Synopsis: The Affordable Care Act could transform the health status of millions of low-income and underserved individuals. However, tremendous challenges lie ahead as the legislation is integrated with a complex web of existing state and federal regulations. Advocates need significant technical assistance to inform the federal and state regulations and policies that will implement the law and determine whether its promise of expanded coverage is actually realized.

Synopsis of the Work: The National Health Law Program provided legal analysis and support to state and national policy-makers and consumer advocates to ensure that the principles and goals of the Affordable Care Act are protected as regulations and policies are developed to implement the new law. Attorneys and other project staff also helped to defend national health reform from a range of challenges aimed at diminishing its reach. RWJF funded this project under its 2010 solicitation, Getting Americans Covered: Ideas from the Field.

Key Results

  • Project staff:

    • Provided legal and policy support, including technical assistance and training, to national and state-based coalitions working to ensure that health reform reaches the most vulnerable populations
    • Provided legal support to inform the regulations and other guidance that will implement the Affordable Care Act at both the federal and state levels
    • Engaged in in-depth analysis and advocacy to protect health reform legislation against the constitutional challenges before the U.S. Supreme Court
    • Developed a communications strategy to emphasize the impact of health reform on coverage for low-income people, targeting national and state policy-makers and advocates, health lawyers, the courts, health care providers, the public, and the media

The regulations and policies developed at the state and federal level to implement the health reform law will determine whether its promise of expanded coverage is actually realized.