“The ACA has had an incredible impact on Eastern Washington.”
Dr. William Lockwood is sitting in a coffee shop in the North Central neighborhood of Spokane, sipping his coffee as he speaks about his area of expertise: health care.
As Chief Clinical Officer at a local safety net health organization, Dr. Lockwood is intimately familiar with the health care needs of Eastern Washington.
“Before the ACA, about 40% of our patients were uninsured,” he says.
At Dr. Lockwood’s organization, about 10% of the operating budget comes from government grants, while the rest comes from patient fees paid by insurance companies. The resources are slim, and the need is overwhelming. Since the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, the uninsured rate plummeted to 8%, the patient base grew, and they hired more staff and opened new clinics to meet the needs of more people.
“America is the richest country in the world,” Lockwood says, leaning forward to emphasize his point. “We can do so much better.”
For all the fabled complexities of health care, Lockwood believes the answer is simple. When people have consistent access to health care, he explains, they stay healthier. And when people are healthier, they’re happier and more productive members of society. With quality primary care, chronic conditions can be caught early, making the entire system more efficient and less expensive.
To Lockwood, the ACA was a great start, but the answer to Eastern Washington’s persistent health care problems is not to scrap it and start over, but to build on what Obama’s law began. Ultimately, there’s only one logical health care system, and only one way to pay for it.