August 20, 2013

My Point Is...Where’s the Beef - in health care forums?

By Nita Johnson
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Franklin D. Roosevelt coined the phrase of “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” which amply applies to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as “Obamacare.”

The remaining six weeks before employers begin enrollment for mandatory health insurance still has unanswered questions.

Despite numerous health care forums recently held in the area, the specifics of the Affordable Care Act still remain ambiguous, even for those who attended and participated in these forums. Instead, these public meetings became yet another platform for political bickering about a bill intended to put a seal on rising health care costs. Participants often leave these forums feeling bewildered and disappointed.

The major question regarding the Affordable Care Act is simple: How will this affect me?

The Republicans credit “Obamacare” as a Democratic bill they must stop. Reportedly, the Republicans want to delay the health care bill for both employers and employees for another year. With the enrollment period for employers just six weeks away and employee enrollment going into effect on Jan. 1, people care less and less about the politics of the Affordable Care Act and more about what it will mean for them.

As more “health care forums” are scheduled in the area, it is imperative that our political leaders cut through the issues and give solid answers to the concerns of the people — or more simply put,  get to the meat of the issue and leave the condiments of politics in the Capitol City.

The next health care forum should focus on the concerns of those affected and provide answers to questions such as:

• What are the penalties or options for employees who do not use employer-provided health care coverage?

• How will mandatory dental and vision coverage for dependent children listed on a health insurance policy affect lower income families who are currently receiving Medicaid coverage?

• Will the dental and vision coverage for children be similar to current insurance policies or will it offer as extensive coverage’s Medicaid?

• How will the costs for the indigent population be offset?

Those, among hundreds of other targeted concerns, should be the topics addressed in health care forums, which are touted as a presentation of information and clarification through a question and answer period. When political jargon clouds the question and answer, it leaves the masses confused and resentful of the politicians who address it as yet another stage to advance their personal agendas.

The turmoil between the two political parties on Capitol Hill is old news. The effects of the Affordable Care Act is a new and far more important one. Our politicians who choose to address the health care issues need to give us the meat and stop dangling a line and hook to reel us into their political arguments.

Health care forums should provide information about health care and, specifically now, about how the mandated Affordable Care Act will affect the people.

Until that information is the real topic of political visits, the health care forums are just another smoke screen used to promote political discord and disguising it in any other way is simply unfair to the citizens.