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Black notables making the Affordable Care Act happen: Damon Davis

Damon Davis

Damon Davis

Black notables making the Affordable Care Act happen: Damon Davis

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

Meet Damon Davis, director of the Health Data Initiative in the Chief Technology Office at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). He is responsible for leading HHS’s efforts to promote data transparency for innovation in health care, a key administrative program.

Please explain your role in implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

I’m primarily focused on the availability and creative uses of health data for better health care and human service delivery, especially in support of Affordable Care Act implementation.

The department has cataloged vast stores of Health and Human-Services data that are publicly available on and that we promote for use in solving problems and meeting challenges across the healthcare system. My role is to help make the data available so it can be put to work to uncover opportunities for greater efficiencies in our healthcare system, possibilities for cost reductions or other improvements to health and health care.

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

The Affordable Care Act will allow people who previously didn’t have access to health care to get coverage for preventative care for conditions that probably would have spun out of control if left untreated.

The ACA is very beneficial for minorities and the underserved, who need access to early-detection tests before the onset of chronic conditions that could result in dire situations. It’s granting health-care access to more people during a time when the system is being dramatically improved to focus more on delivering better-quality care and reducing costs for everyone, so our new entrants into the system will benefit from these landmark improvements.

Supporting all of this are electronically enabled health-care systems that are allowing providers and patients to better coordinate care between primary physicians, specialists, nursing facilities and caregivers at home. So the combination of access, prevention and early detection and IT-coordinated information paints a new picture of care for everyone.

Does the use of electronic medical records mean that the government will be able to see your information and have control over it?

No, the widespread adoption of electronic health records is all about the secure exchange of health data among providers and with patients and caregivers to make sure that better health care, improved quality and reduced costs are part of the process for everyone. As a matter of fact, the wider use of electronic health records means that individuals will have more access to and control over their own health information—and health care—than ever before. Every individual is going to continue to go to their own health professional’s office, where that provider will be able to analyze data about that individual in order to help them arrive at the best decisions about their own 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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