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Obamacare enrollment discussed at Chamber meeting

October 1st, 2013 - 5:38am

(Port Angeles) – Open enrollment for Obamacare begins today.

The Affordable Care Act and its local impact were the topic of this week’s Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Executives from local health care and insurance entities spoke to the group.

Olympic Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Eric Lewis talked about the pros and cons of Obamacare regarding both the Hospital and local citizens.

Lewis says the positives are the insurance reform and providing access to health care to the uninsured, which number 11-thousand in Clallam County.

Through Medicaid and the health insurance exchange, Lewis says thousands locally will be covered with insurance.

Lewis says the drawbacks of Obamacare include the cutting of the Medicare reimbursement to pay for the expansion of services, but he says overall it's a positive for the local health care community and get reform of the health care delivery system moving forward.

Many uninsured people routinely go to the Hospital's Emergency Room for treatment. The hospital has to absorb that cost, which runs into millions of dollars a year.

Lewis says the ER could experience some increased volumes, so they are working on expanding the number of employees and the amount of space that is available.

The big focus, Lewis says, is recruiting primary providers so the newly insured have a medical home and not use the emergency room for their basic services.

Volunteers in Medicine for the Olympic Peninsula, Clinic Manager Mary Hogan says VIMO will be helping people navigate the new rules.

As in-person assisters, their job is to answer questions, show patients the plans available and get them enrolled.

Enrollment begins today, but according to Hogan, three quarters of possible Medicaid recipients aren’t aware they are eligible for the program.

Hogan says 85 percent of VIMO’s patient base qualifies for Medicaid.

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