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Black notables making the Affordable Care Act happen

Caya Lewis

Caya Lewis

Black notables making the Affordable Care Act happen

One in a series spotlighting African Americans who are playing an integral part in implementing the historic Affordable Care Act.

      Meet Caya Lewis, counselor to the secretary for science and public health at the Department of Health and Human Services. Lewis provides advice to the secretary on a range of public health and science issues and helps develop and lead administration initiatives.

 Please explain your role in implementing the Affordable Care Act.

     I am working on the things that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is doing, such as getting communities access to grants to prevent heart disease and implement smoking-cessation programs. I work with them and brief the secretary on what they are doing. I help guide her through implementing the ACA.

 What’s your favorite feature of the Affordable Care Act as it relates to Blacks and marginalized people?

     What excites me most are the preventative services that are available at no cost. Knowing that women have healthcare needs that have been overlooked for too long, I am particularly pleased with the extent of services for women. I like the well-women visits. Women need to see a provider on a regular basis to make sure everything is okay. Women are able to get mammograms at no cost. Also, domestic violence screenings are more available. I’m hoping that all of these things will help women be proactive about their health and prevent diseases and conditions that can be life-altering. So I’m really excited about that piece.

 Why should people with HIV be excited about the Affordable Care Act?

I see the Affordable Care Act as a mechanism to help decrease health disparities. There are many people who are HIV positive and can’t get insurance on the private market, which is one of the biggest travesties in our healthcare system now. The ACA has prohibited that practice. Having a pre-existing condition can no longer prohibit people from getting insurance. African Americans are disproportionately uninsured, which exacerbates the is-sue of not having coverage for people with HIV. The Affordable Care Act has expanded coverage and changed the eligibility for Medicaid to help people purchase quality health insurance. The Ryan White Care Act provides services to the uninsured, but the ACA will allow more people with HIV to be insured and to have quality health care.

     Candace Y.A. Montague is a freelance health writer in Washington, D.C. She is the D.C. HIV/AIDS examiner for and a blogger for The Body. She also contributes to The Grio and East of the River.


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