By Darla Shelden
The Oklahoma County Democratic Party (OCDP) is hosting a health care forum to discuss the Affordable Care Act. The event, “People Over Politics: What You Should Know About the Affordable Care Act,” is set for Monday, April 2, from 5:30 p.m.to 8 p.m. at the Local 1141 IBEW Union Hall, 1700 SE 15 St., in Oklahoma City.
Special guest speaker for the event will be retired US Air Force Colonel Katherine Physician Scheirman is the Oklahoma State Director for the event’s co-sponsor, “Doctors for America”.
Scheirman said, “The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will start to make our health care system fairer and give people more security. Thirty-two million more Americans will be insured. The worst insurance company abuses will end.Families will be protected from bankruptcy caused by medical bills and we’ll start improving quality and controlling costs for everyone.”
As part of the “Doctors for America’s” ‘One Million Campaign,’ Scheirman joins with thousands of physicians and medical students from all 50 states. Their goal is to educate one million Americans about the Affordable Care Act.
“Doctors for America” is a national movement of physicians and medical students working together to improve the health of the nation and to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, high quality health care. For more information visit www.drsforamerica.org.
Scheirman contends that surveys indicate most Americans don’t know basic facts about the ACA, and most think it’s too complicated to understand.
“The Affordable Care Act is clearly constitutional,” said Oklahoma County Democratic Party Chair, Marguerite Leon. “The event is designed to provoke thought and discussion about how the average family in Oklahoma will be transitioned into the Affordable Care Act. Dr. Scheirman will be discussing how health care reform affects individual Oklahomans including seniors, women, children and military family members.”
The Affordable Care Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in March 2010 takes full effect in 2014. Scheirman says it will give Oklahoma residents more control over their health care choices.
Currently, 597,000 Oklahomans, or 19 percent of the non-elderly population, lack health insurance. Under ACA, according to advocates, the number of uninsured is projected to fall by 57 percent to 259,000, or 10 percent of the non-elderly population.
“The legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act are not about the law, but about political games that will take away benefits from millions of Americans and put insurance companies back in charge,” said Leon.
Scheirman says there are four basic parts to the Obama health care plan: Coverage, security, prevention and innovation.
“Better coverage means many, many more people will be able to get affordable insurance. They’ll have security from the worst abuses of insurance companies such as terminating people when they get sick, arbitrary limits on amount of coverage, and denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Money will be directed toward keeping people healthy through prevention, rather than waiting to treat an illness when they have already gotten sick. For example, eliminating co-pays for preventive services, such as immunizations and annual check ups helps keep people healthy and catches disease in the earliest, most treatable stages,” said Scheirman.
“Beginning in 2014, insurance will be more affordable because of subsidies. If you can afford insurance you must buy it or pay a small penalty. Low-income people will be eligible for Medicaid. Subsidies will help people with incomes up to 400 percent of the poverty level purchase health insurance. Why wouldn’t people get health insurance if it were affordable?” continued Scheirman.
Scheirman currently serves on the Council of Fellows of the American College of Physician Executives, and is a senior advisor to Vote Vets.
“We are pleased to have Dr. Scheirman as our guest speaker to share with us important information about the Affordable Care Act and we’ll have an array of resources available at the meeting,” said Leon.
Proponents of the health care legislation have called it a “historic victory” and “landmark legislation” that reforms the U.S. health care system by reigning in health care costs, making health care affordable, and protecting consumers from unfair insurance practices. They say the law will reduce the nation’s deficit by more than $100 billion by 2020 and by $1 trillion by 2030.
Opponents have called it a “socialist” and “unconstitutional” government takeover of the health care system that will increase the cost of health care and decrease the quality. They say the law will cost more than $2.5 trillion over 10 years and drive the U.S. deeper into debt. Several congressional representatives and interest groups have initiated attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. U.S. Rep. James Lankford’s website contends, “Most Americans reject the notion that government should be intimately involved in their health care decisions.”
“The purpose of the Affordable Health Care forum is to try to explain this legislation in basic terms that the average Oklahoman can understand, said Glenn Hightower, OCDP Vice Chair. “Our goal is to reach anyone who is interested.”
There will be a Q&A session following Dr. Scheirman’s presentation and participants will be asked to share their own health care stories.
“Due to the many inaccurate perceptions or understandings of the ACA we want to provide good, understandable and accurate information about this topic,” said OCDP Secretary LaDonna Hunt. “There will be an opportunity to ask questions and time to share our experiences with our present health care system in America.”
The reception with refreshments starts at 5:30 p.m. and the program will begin at 6:30 p.m. The event is
free and open to the public.
For more information call Margaret Leon at 405.536.2422 or visit www.okcountydemocrats.org.