1st step in healthcare reform welcomed by area residents

With some of the primary changes of President Obama’s health care reform now carried out, some area residents continue to stand by initial reactions to the health care bill.

On July 1, the government enacted the first step from the reform: the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan.

According to the plan’s website, the government aims to provide an affordable health care option to individuals that have pre-existing medical conditions and have not had health insurance for six months.

People that have medical conditions before applying for insurance often get denied by private companies or are charged an expensive premium. The plan’s goal is to provide easier access to health insurance.

The Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plan will temporarily stay in place until the full health care reform goes into effect in 2014.

Urbana resident Rachel McGehee thinks this is a good step taken by the government.

“I think it’s good that Obama is helping people with pre-existing conditions,” McGehee said.

But McGehee is still disappointed with the health care bill overall. She said she receives health care through Public Aid but is afraid of how much she will be taxed, or even fined, when the new bill goes into full force in 2014. Once the reform goes into effect, everyone will eventually have health care, and anyone who does not have private insurance, federal insurance or medicare will be fined.

“I can barely survive as it is, now I’m going to be fined to take care of my children,” McGehee said.

The flip-side has also been examined by some residents, such as Champaign resident Mike Levin. Levin said basic coverage is necessary for everyone, as is the reform.

“It seems like it is a long time coming; people should have health insurance,” Levin said. “Either people are not getting care or it is costing the public more than they can afford.”

Levin added that, although it may cost the United States more money to help fund reform, people will be comforted “knowing that at least they have health care.”

Hospitals and clinics in the area, such as Provena Covenant Medical Center, are optimistic about the reform and hope to adjust to it as it comes.

“As a Catholic provider of health services, Provena Health has long championed health care reform,” said Crystal Senesac, director of marketing and public relations at Provena.

She said Provena encourages the United States health care system to “follow a path” in reducing costs for patients, so it is in full support of the bill. She added that the hospital does not know the full effect of the bill and what it holds in store for Provena, so the medical center will take steps to adjust to the bill as it further unfolds.

While Carle Clinic also does not know the full effects of the reform, it has taken steps to better adjust to the bill, said Sean Williams, public relations specialist for Carle Clinic.

“We have begun a process of evaluating the longer-term implications so we can be ready to respond as the regulations are defined over the next several years,” Williams said.