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Health Policy Expert Visits Springfield, Discusses Affordable Care Act

Thomas McAuliffe answered questions, gave a presentation Tuesday for the public at Springfield Art Museum

Members of the public gathered at the Springfield Art Museum today for an information session on the Affordable Care Act. The event was part of the Cover Missouri initiative, designed to incorporate community input, foundation research, and economic analysis by state and national experts into a presentation.

Thomas McAuliffe, a health policy expert with the Missouri Foundation for Health, answered questions and tried to sift through the jargon for a crowd of about 30 people inside the auditorium. 

The Affordable Care Act, signed into law by President Obama in 2010, helps people purchase insurance, and attempts to improve how health care is delivered while fixing the cost of insurance, but, as McAuliffe explains,

“It doesn’t set any price controls, it doesn’t do what other countries do to control their costs and improve quality. That is the problem. When you have a private market driven entity like healthcare, profit is the main focus, not outcomes. And the outcomes of our healthcare system are not such that we have healthier Americans,” McAuliffe said.

So what can Americans do to make sure healthcare reform is being made in their own best interests? McAuliffe advises to simply contact your legislators and demand a healthcare system that’s functional and an insurance system that caters to price not profit. He says people need to inform themselves, and contact your insurance broker.

“Starting in 2014, there are going to be marketplaces called the exchange to purchase insurance, and an informed individual will be able to get better deals, or ask more of their insurance, than someone who just goes on that website and clicks and says ‘It’s too expensive,’ and moves on,” McAuliffe said.

JoAnn Long from Springfield admits she wasn’t informed about the Affordable Care Act prior to the meeting. She came today to ask about the future of Medicare.

“To see if it was even going to be Medicare. I really wasn’t sure whether that was going to be completely out, or what the situation was going to be,” Long said.

And what McAuliffe told her at the meeting was the Medicare will be affected – for the better.

“Basically he said the only changes would be that some of the suppliers, the supplemental providers might go out of business,” Long said.

And while the news about Medicare is good for Long, she says the rest of the Affordable Care Act has left her confused.

“I really think they’ve messed with insurance the wrong way. I’ll be 79 next month. It used to be simple. Today there’s too much interference. I don’t think the average person is going to understand it,” Long said.

For any questions regarding the Affordable Care Act, you can reach Thomas McAullife at tmcauliffe [at] mffh [dot] org, or you can dial him at 314-345-5574.