06/23/2010 01:26 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Health Care Reform is 90 Days Old -- Now What?

Like many Americans, the National Council of La Raza team and I celebrated when President Obama signed the final health care reform changes into law because we had taken unprecedented action to treat our ailing system. This week, we should see several of the most promising provisions become reality, bringing us one step closer to better health care in America.

Along with many advocates, NCLR fought to ensure that the nation's most vulnerable families had access to quality, affordable health insurance. Coupled with the engagement of NCLR's community-based Affiliates, our advocacy efforts helped create a final health reform bill that will provide more affordable insurance opportunities for Hispanic children, families, and future citizens of the U.S. The final reform package included significant improvements for millions in the Latino community. With these gains, NCLR and its Affiliates could lend support to the reforms that have the potential to impact the lives of those communities most in need.

There is much to be proud of, but the hardest work begins now. The new laws provide a solid foundation to bridge the gaps in health care, but they will not guarantee that all Americans get the health care that they need. This week, several provisions that provide protections from insurance company abuses will keep Americans from facing lifetime limits on health coverage or losing their insurance due to illness, and will provide them with information on their rights as patients. The people that reform was designed to protect must be empowered to demand the benefits of the laws and gain access to insurance. We must work together to ensure that Hispanics -- the most uninsured demographic in the nation -- can overcome obstacles to health insurance. Uninsured, eligible Latinos who are not familiar with the health care system will need guidance on how to connect with the care promised to them by reform legislation.

Distributing educational materials may get information to the community, but information sharing must be coupled with sound implementation strategies that take into account the unique needs of the Latino community.