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Informational session on Affordable Care Act brings crowd and questions


STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAU) - For many of us, understanding the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is very difficult. Complicating that are the piles of comments and statistics that often have political bias for or against the program. Federal employees from the Center for Medicaid Services, the Small Business Administration, and the Internal Revenue Service joined Congressman Ron Kind Wednesday for a pair of meetings designed to answer the public’s questions.

After an Eau Claire session, the group was heard by about seventy people in the UW Stevens Point Dreyfus Center Theatre.

Kind says the uninsured and many current Medicaid and Badgercare recipients will be able to shop for coverage online, on the phone, or in person at certified locations. He says the vast majority of Americans won’t have to change a thing. “If you are already receiving health care coverage through your employer, that won’t change. If you’re getting it through Medicare, that won’t change. If you’re getting it through the VA system, that won’t change. I just described over 90% of Americans that won’t have to do anything with the exchanges that are being set up. The exchanges are meant for those who currently are uninsured and they don’t have access to affordable health care coverage in their lives.”

Congressman Kind says the meetings are to clear up the confusion and help people understand their options.

Kind remains disappointed with Governor Scott Walker’s decision not to accept additional federal dollars to expand Medicaid. Walker has said in the past his plan guarantees more individuals are covered. Kind says the Governor’s decision will affect thousands of Wisconsinites. “Roughly 93-thousand are currently receiving BadgerCare, and will no longer at the end of the year. His intent is to push them into these exchanges, and so we’re going to be working with them as far as the transition to help them make choices so that they can continue to receive some affordable health care coverage in their lives.”

In the second year of Obamacare, Kind says small businesses will have a resource to save them money on the purchase of insurance through what’s called the Shop program.

One of the things Kind believes will happen under the Affordable Care Act will be the transition from a pay-by-volume system to a quality based system. He believes making healthcare more efficient and patient centered will save over a trillion dollars.

Employers have to send employees a letter indicating if they will or will not offer health care coverage next year. That letter is due by the end of this month.

There are websites to help answer questions and to sign up for the exchanges. Start with healthcare.gov. There is also information for businesses at sba.gov, plus tax and tax credit information at irs.gov.