Our nation must protect health coverage for the newly insured

These days, you can’t turn on the news or scroll the headlines without seeing some mention of the Affordable Care Act. “Repeal and replace” is the sound bite we hear over and over again. But the big question, yet to be answered, is “Replace it with what?”

While the ACA is far from perfect and has significant room for improvement, more than 20 million Americans, who were previously uninsured, now have health coverage as a result of the law. That’s why, first and foremost, our nation needs to protect coverage for the newly insured and needs a well thought out plan to prevent disruption in their care if the ACA is repealed.

Last year alone, Providence St. Joseph Health served nearly three-quarters of a million more people. Many of them delayed going to the doctor because they didn’t have insurance previously and were very ill by the time they arrived at our doors.  Some would have died had they not come to us when they did, and I am very proud that our teams were ready to care for each of them.

Serving those in need is core to our Mission. Providence St. Joseph Health was founded well over a century ago by the Sisters of Providence and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, who dedicated their lives to serving the poor and vulnerable. The same is true of our larger family, which includes Covenant, Facey, Hoag, Kadlec, PacMed and Swedish. We all share a deep commitment to our communities.

We look forward to being actively involved

While our organization supported the passage of the ACA and believes it is an important step forward, we see many opportunities for improvement in the law. The 106,000 caregivers of Providence St. Joseph Health serve nearly 11 million individuals each year across the Western United States. They are on the front lines of health care and see the needs and struggles of patients and families firsthand every day.  We look forward to sharing their perspective and serving as a resource for lawmakers on policies that will have real impacts on real people in the communities we serve.

Last week, I invited our Associate Vice President of Government Affairs Ali Santore to join me for a conversation about what changes may be in store for health care as Congress begins a new session and a new White House Administration takes office. I hope you’ll take a moment to hear some of her insights. Throughout the year, I’ll invite other colleagues who are close to the issues to share their perspectives with us.

These are important decisions that will affect the health of our nation, and Providence St. Joseph Health intends to be fully engaged in the conversation to be a voice for the communities we serve, especially those who are poor and vulnerable.



  1. I also believe health insurance would / could be more affordable if people were not treated as drug seekers when presenting to the ED with pain. Yes, those people exist, but for those in genuine pain to be treated like they need a fix instead of finding the problem leads to returns to the ED and costs.

  2. Thank you for being a voice of strong support for the strength of the ACA. Our health system shoudl stand strong here and I appreciate your advocacy so much. As was stated above, a weakened health care system makes everyone vulnerable and puts our national economy and productivity at risk. There are many powerful human stories to share here from our caregivers.

  3. As an employee of Providence I have always been proud to work for an organization with such a strong mission and commitment to the poor and vulnerable and with Providence’s commitment now to be politically involved more than ever in order to maintain the ability to continue to take care of our insured and I am more proud than ever. Thank you!

  4. I agree that there were many benefits to the ACA, including new coverage for 20 million. I also agree that changes needed to be made. I know many working class Americans whose premiums and deductables increased dramatically with ACA– Some now forced to decide if they’d rather take the penalty instead of purchasing coverage.

  5. I have been an employee of Providence Health and Services for many years and a firm believer in our mission, I am glad our ministry is going to be proactive in advocating for healthcare for all. Case studies as a talking point is an excellent way to illustrate a point and I am glad to step forward with my family’s story. However here in Washington state I am eager to engage with others in advocating for change and or reform that starts from grassroots. Let us know how we can help here at home.

  6. Having a healthcare plan in place is vital for survival. Having affordable healthcare is even more essential. I am a strong advocate for ACA, because EVERYONE deserves healthcare. Thank you Providence for stepping up to the plate, we cannot afford to lose sight of serving those who are most in need: The poor and the vulnerable.

  7. I am so happy to see Providence step up and advocate for healthcare in America. You are correct that the ACA (Obamacare) is not perfect, but providing so many people with healthcare insurance is HUGE. I am happy that Providence will support continued coverage for citizens. In my opinion high deductible programs utilizing HSA accounts will not work for people already living paycheck to paycheck. For HSAs to be successful, a person must be able to actually SAVE.

  8. Thank you, Providence St. Joseph Health leaders, for your concern about the ACA repeal that has been threatened by elected officials. Millions of people in this country have been frightened unnecessarily by those careless comments by politicians. Please let us know how Providence caregivers can be of help in supporting your common-sense suggestions to lawmakers.

  9. As Dr. Martin Luther King stated, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

    As care providers, it is imperative that we become active in making health care humane and just, for all of our community members!

  10. Being able to assist these vulnerable patients has made our work more meaningful. Selfishly, I don’t want to lose this. We had only just begun!

  11. I am so grateful to work for a healthcare organization that has a clear mission to protect the vulnerable, and follows that mission. I am sure I speak for many caregivers who are seeking ways to promote and support compassionate decisions by law makers.

    Dear Providence – St. Joseph leaders…Please continue this work and know that our workforce has passion and knowledge regarding this issue that are ready to be tapped. Let us know what we can do to support our mission.

  12. I work in Mission Leadership at Providence St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Montana, and have provided ACA enrollment assistance to our patients and the public since the Marketplace opened in 2013. I am heartened to hear such vocal support for the ACA from the leader of our organization. If the ACA is repealed, I anticipate a lot of sad conversations with people asking me what they should do now that they no longer have coverage.

  13. Our efforts should always focus on the poor and vulnerable in our community, but there is need for drastic changes to EMTALA rules, price equality accross states, the Chargemaster, and the need to have basic dental become part of health insurance coverage instead of a seperate plan. We all know our dental health affects our whole system.
    An insurance card is only effective if the out of pocket expenses are kept affordable.

    • Michelle, I share your appreciation of what ACA needs to do to be truly accessible. High out of pocket costs keep clients I meet from seeking primary care; many still use ER after they’ve held off as long as they can. But we have a system and can build on it. I’d vote for single payor (Medicare for all) if it were up to me!

  14. Thank you for keeping engaged! We at Providence St. Mary’s Hospital in Southeastern Washington State have seen large numbers of uninsured and Applecare patients in our emergency rooms. Would love to see a plan for preventative healthcare coverage to encourage patients to utilize regular check ups! Also would love to see a national electronic records system that is accessible in every US state and every patient has a credit card sized medical record card containing their own records which they can keep in their wallet. A national electronic pharmacy system in place is also greatly needed so physicians/pharmacists can track whether a patient is crossing state lines to get narcotic prescriptions in neighboring states.

  15. Please remember that is isn’t just the poor and vulnerable who are at risk with the incoming administration; we are all vulnerable when it comes to our health. My parents (both were self employed) were bankrupted when my dad had a health crisis and they found it necessary to move out of the country to seek affordable care. My teenage son has been living with type 1 diabetes since he was 20 months old and I do not know what we would do if I were to lose my job and with it our health insurance. It keeps me up at night to think about what will happen to him if pre-existing conditions once again keep us from insurance. This fight for fair, affordable, and equitable healthcare is about all of us.

  16. Thank you for a great interview. The more we (Providence caregivers) know about upcoming changes and how we can influence them, the better positioned we will be to continue to support the poor and vulnerable in our communities.

  17. Thank you for keeping the poor and vulnerable at the forefront. It’s so important to help these people, especially those who are on the margins of society. Fixing the broken parts of the ACA works so much better than repealing and replacing with no plan in place. Let’s pray for a compassionate president and a congress that can work together to provide healthcare solutions for all Americans. May the people we’ve elected to represent us truly do so with grace and humilty and become their own “Institute of Human Caring”.

  18. Thank you! Please let us know how we can support these efforts.