Some doctors, government officials and activists say new health care reform law could create jobs and lower health care costs

12/14/11 Andrea Lypka
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The new health care law that fully goes into effect in 2014 has been challenged in several states, including Florida. Decision makers informed the community, small business owners and health care advocates about the benefits of health care reform at a Health and Human Services roundtable held in St. Petersburg on December 14.

The organizer of the event was Darden Rice with KnowYour Care, a national organization that aims to engage the public in the dialogue about the health care reform.

“The Affordable Act does three things: it expands access so that 32 million more Americans can get some basic healthcare coverage. Secondly, it improves the affordability. And thirdly, it improves the quality of healthcare so that we are putting more money and energy into a healthcare system that is focused on wellness and prevention instead of a system where millions of people don’t see a doctor until they go into the emergency room where it is the most expensive way, sometimes the least effective to keep you and your family healthy,” Rice said.

Anton Gunn regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said despite claims that health reform hurts the economy; private sector jobs have been created since the Affordable Care Act was signed in 2010.

“On our one year anniversary, 1.4 million jobs have been created in the United States of America of which 243,000 of them were in the health care industry, which is about 17 percent of our job creation,” he said.

According to the National Association of Community health Centers, 60 million Americans lack a source of primary care. Under the new law, Gadsden County in Florida was one of the recipients of a $15.4 million grant for building community health care centers in medically underserved communities.

“They were able to get construction grants to build a brand new medical facility on the other side of the county to provide access for care for people who don’t have it. They are able to serve 4,000 more patients in that country,” Gunn said.

Darden Rice said health care reform will attract more jobs to Florida.

“Here in Florida, the healthcare industry, I believe, makes up to 9 percent of our total jobs in the state. So, it is a driving force. Like I said, it just makes sense that as you bring in 32 million more people into the system, we are going to be creating more jobs. Not just directly for healthcare providers but for a number of medical related industries, industries that manufacture wheel chairs, syringes, equipment, uniforms, you name it, that’s all going toward improving the economy,” Rice said.

This is good news for physician Mona Mangat who is a small business owner and the southern regional director of Doctors for America. She said that Gov. Rick Scott's rejection of $50 million federal funding shortchanged uninsured or underinsured people.

“I am always speaking to people and we are always trying to figure out how are we going to do this if he (i.e., the governor) is not allowing us to set up these consumer agencies, he is not allowing us to set up the exchange. There is just so many roadblocks that I feel Florida is going to be left behind. And I fear for that,” Mangat said.

Florida has challenged the Affordable Care Act in courts. The Supreme Court will hear the case in the spring.

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