Friday, March 26, 2010
GLORIA PENNER (Host): This week Congress passed and President Obama signed historic health care legislation: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The new law’s combination of government regulation and market competition will change the face of healthcare in America. Some elements of the bill will take effect this year. Others, such as establishing state health care exchanges, won’t occur until 2014. We spoke with some San Diegans this week to get local reaction to the new law.
FAUSTO PALAFOX (Downtown San Diego Resident): Not super positive. I do believe in health care reform, but I don’t believe in big government. And I believe it was quite a stretch for the government to do that and take it from that standpoint.
ARTHUR FISHER (El Cajon Resident): I want single-payer and so I was unhappy that that didn’t make it through, but it’s just not politically feasible. I think that if the public gets to see what this amount of health care reform does, I think that they might be more amendable in the future to go a little bit closer to single-payer myself.
DAVE HUNTINGTON (Chula Vista Resident): Well, I wasn’t happy with it being passed in the first place because I’m definitely against big government getting into everything that they're getting into. And so I don't know what's going to happen to us. I’m a retired teacher, and she’s retired.
MARION HUNTINGTON (Chula Vista Resident): We’ve been on Medicare for a while with a supplement. Don't know what's going to happen with that - but what I do know is going to happen is that this country is going to pay dearly for this. And I think that even though they’ve been hashing it over for a whole year they didn’t get where they should be on it. Yes definitely we need health care reform, but not to the tune of the trillions of dollars that it’s going to cost this country.
GINA COSTA (North Park Resident): I’ve been in the medical field like 30 years. I’ve seen a lot. I’ve seen a lot to changes to benefit the insurance companies, to benefit profiting off of the sick. And I believe – because I saw the news this morning and I saw the changes – I believe this is for the people. And we do definitely need a change. There's too many uninsured.
PENNER: The health care law includes $11 billion that will be distributed to community health clinics beginning this year. Jeanette Lawrence, director of Government and Community Relations for Family Health Centers of San Diego, said that’s because centers are a model for providing cost effective care. We asked her how the community will benefit.
JEANETTE LAWRENCE (Family Health Centers of San Diego): This bill brings health care coverage to the millions of Americans who haven't been able to access our health care system. And particularly for San Diego when one in five families are uninsured, one in five people are uninsured in our community. That means one in five people don't have access to our health care system and that's just not right. So this bill goes a long way to giving people access to the services they need. And it really helps our providers and our clinics. It makes sure that we can get patients every service they need and coverage isn't a barrier. So you're not having to decide well am I'm going to come back for that tooth cleaning or am I going to pay my rent this month? We can do both and this bill is going to help us do that.
PENNER: San Diego employers have yet to see the full impact of the healthcare legislation and what the provisions in the new law will mean to their businesses and to their bottom lines. Ruben Barrales, president and CEO of San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, tells us how health reform will affect local businesses.
RUBEN BARRALES (San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce): So for San Diego, which is primarily a small business community in that 90 percent of our businesses have 50 or fewer employees, I think the jury is still out. The Congressional Budget Office says that really small businesses shouldn't anticipate much of a decrease in monthly payments at all. But hopefully it won't drive costs up too much that it would create a disincentive to create jobs, because what we really want to have happen is for jobs to be created and to have employees covered with health insurance. Also for San Diego, with the biomedical community being so important, there is a new tax - $20 billion-a-year - on businesses that manufacture medical devices. So that unfortunately for start-ups companies in the medical device field could be a big tax bill and we've yet to see what the actual impact will be.
PENNER: The Employment Development Department reported today that the state jobless rate held steady at 12 ½ percent in February. As unemployment climbs, so do the number of uninsured. A recent UCLA study noted that one in four Californians under the age of 65 do not have health insurance. For more on local reaction to the healthcare debate, please go to kpbs.org.