Newswise — Today, the University of Maryland School of Medicine presented an update on the national implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), focusing on the impact to poor and underserved communities and individuals. Congressman Elijah Cummings was the featured speaker for the event.

In addition, a briefing was presented on the supplement included in the 25th anniversary issue of The Journal of Healthcare for the Poor and Underserved (JHPU), which is devoted to the Affordable Care Act and its impact on American healthcare. The supplement from JHPU was co-edited by Claudia R. Baquet, MD, MPH professor and associate dean for policy and planning, and director of the Center for Health Disparities and Bioethics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Maryland State Senator Thomas M. “Mac” Middleton partnered with Dr. Baquet on the presentation of the supplement from JHPU.

“For many Americans, the Affordable Care Act provided access to insurance and health care for the very first time,” said Congressman Cummings. “This law has positively altered the courses of millions of lives, especially in historically underserved communities, offering quality health care coverage, and fighting waste, fraud and abuse. Voting in favor of this bill is one of the most important things I’ve done as a Member of Congress ­­– and now that the law has been implemented, it’s critical that we look at what we’ve been able to accomplish and what still needs to be done to give every American access to the care they need.”

Several speakers provided different perspectives on the ACA based on articles they published recently in the anniversary supplement for the JHPU:

• Dr. Carlessia Hussein: Working With Communities to Achieve Health Equality in Maryland’s Five Health Enterprise Zones• Dr. Michael Preston: Reducing Cancer Disparities Through Community Engagement in Policy Development – The Role of Cancer Councils• Dr. Karen Freund: The Impact of Health Insurance Reform on Insurance Instability

Other speakers included Lisa M. Carr, MSW, the Associate Director for HHS’ The Partnership Center for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

“The Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved has long been a pioneer in the field of addressing healthcare needs for the poor and underserved and health disparities, issues that were increasing in importance when the journal began in 1989,” said Dr. Baquet, who also sits on the journal’s editorial board. “This journal has played a key role in making a major national and global issue out of the fight to provide access to quality health care to people of all income levels, geographic areas, races and ethnicities. Nothing is more representative of how far we have come than the Affordable Care Act. I hope the articles in this supplement enhance the discussion and offer solutions on health reform.”