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Affordable Care Act, 1 Year Later

By Charlie Deitz


Massachusetts – Today marks the one year anniversary of the passage of President Obama's National Health Care Reform Bill. WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief Charlie Deitz reports on what impacts the legislation has had on Massachusetts, which passed its own health care reform four years ago

A gallup poll released this week to coincide with the one year anniversary finds the national health care law losing popularity, with 46 percent of those surveyed saying the law is a good thing versus 44 percent in opposition, that's a 3 percent loss for those in favor of the law over the last year.

Taking a look at how the law has impacted health care delivery is Bryan Ayars - executive director for Community Health Programs, a health care operation for those with low to middle income in Berkshire County. Ayars commends national health care reform for doing away with coverage denials on the part of insurance companies, based on pre-existing conditions. He also credits the law with providing more comprehensive coverage for young adults, and prescription coverage for Medicare recipients. But, Ayars says providers are weary of adapting to things like electronic medical record keeping.

Ayars says so far health care reform has been a mixed blessing - providing more access, but also more overall expenses. Obama's law looks to expand community health centers like the one Ayars commands, and his organization is seeing about 150 to 200 new patients a month - many of whom couldn't find a physician to treat them in the regular marketplace.

The folks at the Mass GOP aren't necessarily bringing out a cake to celebrate the day.Tim Buckley, spokesperson for the Mass GOP, who notes that over the last year, more items have been added to the law, which could add to its cost, the main sticking point for republicans who want to repeal the law.

Amy Whitcomb Slemmer is a huge fan of the health care reform law. As the executive director of Health Care for All Massachusetts, she was at the table when the commonwealth put together its health care reform legislation, and she says its benefits are being felt across the country a year after the passage of national health reform.

Slemmer says over the next year, individuals who purchase health care will start to be entitled to government subsidies to help them pay for coverage, income restrictions do apply however. And while the folks in Washington DC hammer out the details of universal coverage, Slemmer says the Commonwealth will stay in the vanguard, working on issues that will have national importance.

Recently, other states have been given some flexibility to work out their own reform as long as certain federal criteria are met, Vermont, for example, is trying to establish a single payer system, Tim Buckley says that idea was hatched by one of Massachusetts' own.

The gallup poll on the one year anniversary of the affordable care act also finds that while democrats largely favor the bill and republicans largely oppose it, about half of the independents polled say the law will worsen the nation's medical care.