Town hall on health care reform draws a crowd - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Town hall on health care reform draws a crowd

Updated:

Metairie, La. — Some locals voiced concerns Monday about the possible impact of parts of the nation's health care reform law.

Come January 1, the individual mandate takes effect. It requires most Americans to have health insurance, whether they want it or not.

Congressman Steve Scalise, R-Metairie, held a town hall meeting on the law Monday at East Jefferson Hospital.

"I'm for a waiver for everybody; it's called repeal," said Scalise.

It has been three years since President Barack Obama signed the legislation into law. But opposition has not waned in some areas.

"I fault Congress for not standing up and saying, 'Mr. President, enough is enough,'" said Elizabeth Dolan, a constituent of Scalise.

While most who spoke from the audience opposed the law, there was a vocal supporter who took the floor a couple of times during the discussion.

"Young people are just getting a free pass and the taxpayers are paying for that when they show up in the emergency room," said Chris Edmunds.

An official with the Louisiana State Medical Society said medical professionals have serious reservations about how the industry will be affected.

"We're really worried about the cost of insurance, the cost of providing that care which both ultimately leads to decreased access, which is what we do not want to happen," said LSMA CEO Jeff Williams.

Already some Louisiana doctors are refusing to see Medicaid patients because of low reimbursement rates from government. Williams said adding more people to the Medicaid rolls at this time may worsen the problem.

"It doesn't make a whole lot of sense today to dump several hundred thousand more people into a program where you don't have enough providers," he said.

But the Louisiana Democratic Party said the uninsured and under-insured in the state of Louisiana stand to gain a lot from health care reform.

"Congressman Scalise is dead wrong when he says the Affordable Care Act is a bad deal for Louisiana. It's a great deal for Louisiana, and it would be an even better deal for Louisiana if Governor Jindal embraced the law and expanded access to Medicaid health insurance for 400,000 uninsured Louisianians." Kirstin Alvanitakis, communications director for the La. Democratic Party.

She said concerns about the number of health care providers should not be allowed to impede the law. "That's something we can address when we see that happening. Obviously we'd love to add more capacity to our medical universities or medical training school. And we need to make sure that these folks have health insurance. They're already seeking care in our emergency rooms, and as we know that is the most expensive way to be treated," stated Alvanitakis.

Williams conceded, that concerns aside, there are parts of the law that could be beneficial for people across the board. "The requirements for the allowability for children to stay on their parents' insurance until they're 26 years old is great. The no-exclusions for pre-existing conditions is wonderful," he said.

On October 1, federal health insurance exchanges are to open. They will be designed to allow insurance companies to compete for the business of individuals.

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