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Town Hall explains healthcare reform to Los Angeles residents

Health Care Reform (2009)Barack ObamaAffordable Care Act (Obamacare)

Hundreds of L.A. County residents attended a town hall meeting at Cal State L.A. on Friday afternoon to learn about the state’s new insurance exchange, which will begin enrolling people this fall.

Peter Lee, executive director of the health exchange called Covered California, explained what health plans were participating, what benefits were covered and how the enrollment would occur before taking dozens of questions from audience members.

He described it as a “one-stop shop” for insurance for people with all different incomes. “We now have affordable, guaranteed, high-quality health insurance and it’s coming Jan. 1, 2014,” he said.

Through Covered California, roughly 2.6 million people will be eligible for subsidized coverage. Another 1.4 million could be eligible for Medi-Cal, the state’s program for low-income and disabled people.

Lee also talked about the state’s plan to do widespread marketing this summer, through paid media campaigns and on-the-ground grassroots outreach. “People need to be talking to their neighbors,” he said.

Angela King, an uninsured Realtor from Los Angeles, said she had heard about Obamacare, but didn’t know what it could mean to her. The town hall, she said, was a perfect opportunity to get more information about whether she might be eligible for subsidies to buy private insurance. 

“I’m hoping to get insured with some help,” King said. “With the tax credits, that will be a win-win situation.”

Peter Santoso, an agent with Farmer’s Insurance, said he wanted to know more details about the changes under healthcare reform so he could better answer his customers’ questions.

“I need to know what they will be offering, how much that will cost and what are the benefits,” he said.

The two-hour session opened with comments from state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D–West Covina), who said that a lot is riding on how healthcare reform works in California.

“The success of the Affordable Care Act in this country is going to depend on the success of the exchange,” he said. “I believe that Covered California will be successful.”

The event took place the same day that both President Obama and former President Clinton were in California talking about the national healthcare reform and the state's progress on implementation. 

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Twitter: @annagorman

anna.gorman@latimes.com

 

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