Posted: Thursday, September 13th 2012 at 12:12pm
Affordable Care Act informational seminar attracts crowd
By Marc Eggers Staff
GAINESVILLE – Everyone seems to have two things in common regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA): questions about its nuances and opinions about its existence.
It started out as a 2400-plus page bill, became a 906 page law signed into effect on March 23, 2010, and was upheld by the United States Supreme Court this past June. Yet it continues to generate questions and concern among area business owners, their employees, health care service providers, and insurance companies.
Because of those issues the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, Northeast Georgia Health System, and Turner Wood and Smith Insurance organized a Healthcare Reform Seminar held Thursday morning at the Georgia Mountains Center.
Nearly 200 pre-registrations indicated the wide spread interest in the new law. An unannounced ten-question "pop-quiz" given to the audience by Rob Fowler, Executive Vice President with Turner Wood and Smith, proved the wide spread lack of understanding about the new law.
Chamber President Kit Dunlap said, "A lot of it might still be unknown, but we’ve got some experts here that have studied it and can tell you what is really going to happen and what might happen."
Fowler said, "It (the new law) represents the most significant regulatory overhaul of the US healthcare system since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965."
Tony Herdener, Chief Financial Officer for Northeast Georgia Health System, told the audience, "We are in a situation just like you, trying to figure out the numerous nuances that are in this healthcare reform and how do we manage that cost and service."
Northeast Georgia Health System, Herdener explained, not only provides healthcare services but also provides coverage for over 5,000 of their employees.
Keynote speaker Rich Sanders of The Sanders Law Firm described PPACA as "the most important domestic policy issue that our country has faced since Viet Nam."
Sanders said that the issue has become so politicized that even the epithets used to refer to the legislation show bias.
Proponents refer to it as the "Affordable Health Care Act", while opponents give it the moniker of "Obama Care". Either name, Sanders said, he would try to avoid using as he hoped to explain the law’s provisions and mandates objectively.
Sanders referred back to June 28th and the Supreme Court’s (5 -4) decision upholding the law, which affects an estimated 17% of the Gross National Product, as constitutional.
Sanders’ summary of the 60-page Supreme Court decision was: "Congress does not have the power to tell you to go buy health insurance, but it has the power to tax you if you don’t."
Sanders cited Chief Justice John Robert’s explanation for his vote to affirm the new law, saying that, "the Supreme Court is not here to save the American people from the decisions of the government it elects. If you want a different decision elect a different government."
Sanders encouraged everyone present to learn all that they could about the provisions and requirements of PPACA and to vote accordingly on November 6th.
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