UCCA Discusses ObamaCare
Just two days after the re-election of President Barack Obama to a second term, “ObamaCare – Blessing or Curse?” was a timely topic at the United Community Civic Association (UCCA) public informational meeting held on November 8 at the Augustana Lutheran Church hall in Astoria Heights.
“Much more a blessing,” responded Congressmember Joseph Crowley, also reelected in the 14th Congressional District where he has served since 1999, concerning the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.
“ObamaCare helps those without affordable coverage and, in essence, helps those of us with coverage,” said Crowley, noting the cost of health care currently rises at an annual rate of 20 percent. “Our ultimate goal is to get that cost down.”
“(ObamaCare) will certainly help you,” agreed Executive Director of Mount Sinai Queens Caryn Schwab, calling the bill “much needed reform” with improved access to health care for 32 million Americans. “We all agree that the cost of health care is just too high,” said Schwab. The average insurance premium is $15,000 per year per family, she said.
As moderator, UCCA President Rose Marie Poveromo, called ObamaCare “unaffordable, overwhelmingly unpopular, and controversial” while acknowledging that the provision to cover pre-existing conditions was “desperately needed”.
“Politics does enter into it,” said Crowley, referring to other controversial milestones of social legislation such as the Social Security Act of 1935 and Medicare in 1965. “The bill is truly paid for (and) it is not a burden on future generations.”
The total cost of $1.2 trillion is to be financed by reductions in federal Medicare and Medicaid spending.
Schwab said one in seven Americans now have no healthcare coverage and Crowley pointed out that going to a hospital emergency room costs 10 times more than a visit to a primary care physician.
“Most people will not experience any change (in their healthcare coverage),” said Schwab in reference to the fact that the vast majority of Americans are now covered by employer-based insurance.
Beginning in January 2014, people not covered can purchase healthcare insurance through exchanges that will be set up in the individual states. Low-income families and individuals will be eligible for federal subsidies. There will be a penalty for those who remain uninsured. Also no one under age 19 can be denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions, or be removed from coverage due to a lifetime limit, a cap on total lifetime benefits prohibited by ObamaCare.
“Our job will be to focus less on those patients who come into the emergency room and more on expanding primary care physician care and wellness,” said Schwab. “It’s really turning the whole healthcare system on its head, but really, in a better way.”
“Whether we like ObamaCare or not, the track we were going on would bankrupt the United States,” said Crowley. “It’s not a perfect bill (and) we’ll have to work through some of the glitches,” he said. On June 28, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Patient and Affordable Care Act constitutional, leading Crowley to conclude, “(ObamaCare) is the law of the land.”
Assemblymember Aravella Simotas and District Leader Costa Constantinides were also in attendence.