Speaker outlines 2010 Affordable Care Act

Kit Wagar

Questions still abound over the 2010 health care reform legislation known as the Affordable Care Act. Kit Wagar, a health reform specialist with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, presented a brief outline of the law during a lecture on Nov. 5 at the School of Medicine.

Wagar walked through many of the key elements of the law and described it as designed to improve the quality of health care while lowering the costs.

He said one of the biggest changes that physicians would see would be a large increase in the number of patients added to the current health care load as he pointed out that more than 50 million people are currently without any form of health insurance.

Wagar said the government plan would help ease that burden by providing $11 billion throughout the next five years to expand community health centers and by providing $250 million to expand the primary care health care workforce.

Wagar pointed to two local examples. In late 2010, the School of Medicine received two federal grants totaling nearly $3.8 million to expand its residency programs in internal medicine and family medicine. Also in Kansas City, the Samuel Rogers Community Health Center received an $8.2 million federal grant to help fund a $25 million expansion.

Wagar, a former assistant to the director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said the Affordable Care Act was created in a way that everyone plays a role, both patients and health care professionals.

For patients, he said that means even those earning a minimum wage will pay something. “The key is that everyone who can, has to contribute something,” he said. “No more free riders is one of the key elements of this law.” And for health care providers, he said the new law “expects everybody to use the full extent of their training.”

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