The MBA program at Shepherd University hosted a panel discussion in Martinsburg Wednesday night that drew in a large crowd. The topic – the Affordable Care Act. The goal of the discussion was to look at the good, the bad, and the unknown and discuss how it directly affects West Virginians.
Dozens of people attended the event at the historic McFarland House in Martinsburg. Like most controversial pieces of legislation, the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, has received plenty of attention since it was first enacted in 2010 – good and bad.
Four panelists from various healthcare organizations were invited to speak Wednesday both in support of and against the law more commonly called Obamacare.
Louise Reese is the CEO of the West Virginia Primary Care Association and was one of the four speakers. She says it’s highly unlikely the nation will see a full repeal of the law like many opponents have called for.
“We have implemented so many components of the Affordable Care Act that trying to repeal or bring it back would create more chaos then it would be to correct the problems,” Reese explained, “so even if our political change is shifted to a Republican base where they would prefer to repeal Obamacare, I don’t think that, that is a reality once they begin to look at all the successes of the program that it would do more harm than intended if they were to try and repeal it.”
Reese believes many who call for the repeal don’t fully understand how the Affordable Care Act works. For West Virginia, Reese says Medicaid expansion alone under the ACA was a game changer.
“When people realize that they will have access to primary care, that they can go to have a radiology procedure that they were afraid to have done because of the cost, there’s just a tremendous burden taken off their shoulders. So most of the patients that the health centers are serving are thankful when they learn that they will now qualify for Medicaid.”
Reese says before the ACA passed, West Virginia had one of the highest rates of uninsured Americans. In the first year of expansion, more than 70,000 West Virginians were able to obtain coverage under Medicaid.
The third open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act will begin on November 1 and end in late January 2016.