Hispanic Health Care InternationalThe recent elections, which will influence the implementation of Affordable Care Act (ACA), dominated the news, social media, and conversations at the dinner table. Newly elected congressmen and senators, with different ideologies, will continue to support or oppose the ACA, which has significant ramification for health care organizations and how this will impact the Hispanic community. The continued growth of the Hispanic population has resulted in significant increases outside of the traditional states such as California, Texas, Florida, and New York. The growth now includes states such as North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi.

The shift to different states will require organizations throughout the health care continuum to implement competencies that will promote cultural values in care delivery. Additional health care workers, from diverse backgrounds, will need to be recruited to improve minority representation of the populations they serve. Traditionally, patient care was not focused on cultural sensitivity; but as an organization’s patient population shifts, then the care delivery model will need to be adapted. Care models will need to incorporate cultural beliefs of the populations served. This includes gaining an understanding by employees of how to care for diverse populations. Assumptions can’t be made that all patients can be taken care of in the same way.

The implementation of the ACA will provide health care coverage for approximately 16 million Hispanics who are either uninsured or underinsured today. The increase in health care coverage provides preventative medicine coverage, which can help reduce disparities among the Hispanic community. The influx of newly covered patients will require health care providers to understand the patient population they serve. Caring for the Hispanic community requires health care providers to build trust to promote two-way communication, which can result in adherence with treatment regimes. Eliminating disparities will decrease health care costs and improve quality of life, which will impact health care systems throughout the country.

Hispanics, the largest minority group, will have an opportunity to influence future elections, which can improve the health and access of the Hispanic community. The ability of Hispanics to unify their voices will further promote initiatives, which will improve the health of the community. All eligible Hispanics are encouraged to vote at every local, state, and national election so that health care priorities can be addressed. Hispanic nurses have a great opportunity to educate within their local, state, and national level on what the needs are of the community, which will improve the health and eliminate health care disparities that continue to exist.

This editorial is reposted from Volume 10, Number 4, 2012 , pp. 158-158 of Hispanic Health Care International.  You can find the complete TOC. Correspondence regarding this article should be directed to Jose Alejandro, PhD(c), RN-BC, MBA, CCM, FACHE, President, National Association of Hispanic Nurses, 1455 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20004. E-mail: jalejandro@thehispanicnurses.org