ELGIN - Last week, Congressman Randy Hultgren held a Community Health Care Leadership Forum at Elgin Community College to address the healthcare system's challenges.
"Our healthcare system today is extremely complex and few Americans have the ability to make sound and affordable decisions for themselves and their families. Consumers are facing rising costs and fewer options, and can't predict with any cetainty how upcoming changes in teh Affordable Care Act will affect them," Hultgren told those attending.
The forum's agenda included three panels with healthcare experts. The future of the Affordable Care Act was discussed, followed by a panel on health care innovations and how to encourage more research and development. The day's final panel was about access to health care, and how to encourage consumers to best utilize available care.
During the lunch hour, Scott Becker, a partner with McGuireWoods spoke about trends in health care reform.
Becker said that eight million people signed up for healthcare through federal or state exchanges, but only added about four million that were previously uninsured. A larger group - 12 million - acquired healthcare access through provisions such as Medicaid. Others were added because they were able to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26, and others with preexisting conditions or age are now covered as required by the law.
Scott Becker told Hultgren forum attendees that there's little chance Obamacare can be reversed
While additional coverage is a good development for Americans, Becker said a big question many continue to ask is whether the benefits are worth the $1.1 trillion they will cost taxpayers over the next ten years.
Becker said that there's little chance, if any, of repealing the ACA. "It will be difficult to throw out," Becker said. "That ship has sailed." He said the challenge now for most is how to work within the ACA guidelines when so much is vague and unclear.
The biggest change since the ACA began being initiated is the high deductible plans and high out-of-pocket costs, Becker said.
"High -deductible health plans and out-of-pocket plans have long een a Republican tenet of healthcare refrom due to arguments around choice and free-market ideals," Becker told the audience. "Democrats, who haven't as closely supported these plans in the past, intentionally or unintentionally did so through the passing of the PPACA, which created marketplace plan structures that include high deductibles and up to 40 percent cost sharing."
Becker was frank about exactly how much it now appears the Obama Administration knew about whether Americans would be able to keep their plans if they liked them with the passage of Obamacare. Becker said, "We've now learned that wasn't the case. There have been a string of presidencies lately with at least one infamous lie that lives well beyond the commander in chief's term, such as those about weapons of mass destruction, extramarital affairs or wiretapping. It will be interesting to see what mistruths about the healcare reform law, if any, persist over time."
Hultgren has hosted several similar townhalls in the past year on different topics, such as Common Core, the area's heroin crisis, and the problems within the Veterans Administration system.
For more information on the presentations, contact Rep. Hultgren's west suburban office at 630.232.7104.