Obamacare, What's In It For You?

Thursday night the Covenant School of Nursing hosted an Obamacare panel to answer questions that many still have about this controversial law.

The sole purpose of this event was to give the general public in-depth information about the effects, give medical and governmental views of the program, and local predictions on what to expect when this law is fully implemented.

The panel consisted of four members: State Representative Charles Perry (R-Lubbock); Democratic Party Chairman Kenny Ketner; Clarke E. Cochran, Ph.D; and Patricia Freier, MSN, RN-BC, RCIS.  Each of the members was intended to bring a wide range of perspectives on the law while offering their expertise to dissect the different components of the law.

During the debate, the panel was focused to address four main questions concerning the law:

  1. How will the public be affected by the new legislation in both personal and financial aspects? Will prices of healthcare actually increase or decrease overall for the average Joe?
  2. What new regulations and protocol will the hospital (Covenant) have to implement to be in compliance with the new legislation, how will this affect the public, and when will they begin to see the changes?
  3. In your own words, how will this legislation affect the work of doctors, physicians’ assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurses who serve the public?
  4. What is one part of the new legislation that you believe that everybody needs to know?

Because the Covenant School of Nursing was hosting the panel, a majority of the issues covered were the behind the scenes effects of the new law and how it would change the functions of healthcare providers. Medical jargon aside, many of the changes were said to be more noticeable on the care-giver side rather than the patient side.

Among other things brought up during the Q&A that followed the debate, the cost of Obamacare was the most concerning issue the audience asked about. Coincidently, this was the one thing the panel could agree on; Obamacare does not do enough to control costs. This is a question I personally brought to the panel because it is obvious that, aside from the individual mandate, costs were the biggest concern among the audience.

“We have the best healthcare in the world if you can afford it,” were the words from Democratic Party Chairman Kenny Ketner.

These words, surprisingly enough, are very true and coming from the Democratic Party Chairman is a bit of a shock to me. It’s almost unheard of to hear anybody from the Democratic Party say anything less than praise about the new law. It’s generally known that supporters of Obama and the Democratic Party are also die-hard supporters of Obamacare. While shocking to hear, it is comforting to know that even the supporters of the law do see the problems it poses and address its shortcomings.

Cochran gave a noticeable opinion on the law saying he gave Obamacare two cheers rather than three because of its failure to control the costs of healthcare. He also said that neither the proposals by the Republicans or Democrats would control costs.

“Is the American healthcare system affordable? No,” Cochran said in response to my question.

Cochran gave these reasons as to why the cost of healthcare was so high:

  • Prices, such as salaries to doctors, nurses, etc., being much higher than the rest of the world.
  • Administrative costs of running hospitals and healthcare programs.
  • Technological innovation driving up healthcare costs, getting us less and less health for the dollars we spend in research and development. But nobody wants to reduce R&D or be slow to adopt the newest drug and/or procedure.

One interesting point brought up that the rest of the panel seemed to leave out of the discussion was made by Patricia Freier as she made her response to my question. While the other panelists focused on the failure of Obamacare to control the rising costs of healthcare, Freier looked at the source of the rising costs and a solution to it.

“We really have not talked about personal responsibility,” Freier said in her response. “It’s all about costs we’ve been talking about here tonight.”

She used heart attacks as an example to explain the rising costs of healthcare, a subject she specializes in.

“We know what causes a heart attack; we know how to prevent it. All heart attacks are preventable. But, you have to do your part and participate in that regiment. We have to have those people who can do those expensive procedures…and that’s driving up the costs of healthcare. It is actually not that expensive to go do this method, find out what your root causes are and treat them, and never have a heart attack. But we don’t really talk about that, we don’t take that personal responsibility and that point needs to be made.”

A very interesting point brought up by someone who seemed to be a supporter of the new law.

Obamacare was designed with the best intentions in mind, but I do agree that the cost of healthcare is the real problem with the healthcare system in America and is also the biggest issue that Obamacare fails to address.

Nevertheless, it was great to have this panel come out and address one of the biggest problems many have of the new law; just not knowing what it is and how it works.

About Jonathan Silva
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