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Health Care Ruling Will Have Direct Impact on Sonoma County

Although it may take several years to complete, the passage of the Affordable Care Act means more Petaluma and other local residents will now be able to access health care, even if it's not provided by their employer.

Thursday's Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act will have direct impact on Sonoma County, allowing more people to access health care who previously were prevented due to cost or unemployment, said local health care official.

The expects an increase of 5,000 more patients from its southern Sonoma County service area over the next few years directly because of this law, according to Kathie Powell, president of the clinic. 

"Greater access to care will improve community health and help workers be more productive on the job, keep students in school and thriving and reduce chronic disease which is very costly for the community,” Powell said. 

“It also means an end to discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions, offering these patients a chance to focus on wellness and reducing the impacts of their conditions and, in some cases, reversing them altogether.”

Under the law, initially passed in 2010, consumers will be able to purchase care in a new competitive private health insurance market, aimed at keeping costs down.

Kevin Klockenga, president and CEO of the St. Joseph Health System, which runs Petaluma Valley Hospital and Santa Rosa Memorial, said the company was pleased with Thursday's ruling and has backed the law from the beginning.  

"This is an exciting time for us because we are the generation that has the opportunity to make a difference," Klockenga said in a statement. "We understand how families and employers are struggling and we are extremely concerned about the accessibility and affordability of health care services."

In a 5-4 vote, the nation's highest court ruled that the mandate requiring everyone to have health insurance through their employer or a private plan was constitutional and that those who did not buy it would be subject to a tax.

Under the ruling, states will be able to opt out of expanding their Medicaid programs, aimed at low-income people. But since California has been at the forefront of states seeking to implement health care reform, it is poised to accept $9 billion per year to expand the program, known locally as Medi-Cal.

Do you currently have health insurance? If not, how do you get medical treatment? 

AvoidTheRedPill June 29, 2012 at 05:35 PM
"...will be ABLE to buy..." You mean FORCED to buy, or pay a fine. This is my understanding. And who decides what is "affordable" for me? The government? The insurance companies? I supported single-payer health coverage, which is what most of us needed, and which could have easily been paid for with a few trims of an obscenely bloated Pentagon budget, but this is just a giveaway to the insurance companies, and a forced fine/tax on those of us who cannot afford insurance, period. Nothing to celebrate that I can see.
Active Thinker June 29, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Some of it is great and some of it is bad for some...I agree...we have way too much money being spent on wasteful budgets i.e. defense budgets etc...but also agree people need to stay healthy...eat right and exercise...this is why we have a huge problem with health...eat locally and don't shop at the big box places....

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