Affordable Care Act discussion packs the house in Eau Claire - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Affordable Care Act discussion packs the house in Eau Claire

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- We're less than a month away from a key moment for health care reform and the effort to educate is being ramped up.

On Wednesday, former President Bill Clinton defended ObamaCare during a speech in Arkansas.  He urged opponents of the law to help implement it rather than replay debates.  Open enrollment for the insurance exchanges begins October 1st.

For months, WQOW has been on top of the issue as consumers and businesses even lawmakers raise questions about cost and benefits.  On Thursday, there was a big turnout in Eau Claire for a meeting about the law. 

"People are going to have to go out and make a choice," explains U.S. Congressman Ron Kind.  "You can't just sit back and wait for this to happen on its' own."

People lined up with their questions and concerns.  A packed house inside CVTC shows there's a lot of uncertainty about ObamaCare. 

So if you don't have insurance, what do you need to do?  The sign up period begins October 1st.

"There is going to be a lot of time for people to go either online or to get some help through a broker or agent or some other place in order to choose amongst these competing plans," Kind says.

The cost depends on a number of factors.  For example, someone might be eligible for tax credits based on their income.  That's where the IRS comes into play.

"Basically what the IRS is going to want to know is whether you got health care coverage in your life and also what level of premium tax credit you are qualified for.  That's it," Kind points out.

The congressman says ObamaCare delivers better benefits for many, especially those enrolled in the small group market, which represent the smallest of businesses.

"98 percent of those plans for instance don't offer maternity coverage.  That will change under the exchange," Kind claims.  "They can't deny people with pre-existing conditions anymore."

Governor Walker isn't sold and he says he's hearing from many businesses who wonder what ObamaCare will do to their bottom line.

"A lot of folks I hear from are apolitical or people I've never heard from at least talk about politics before just say, 'Yeah it is a concern for us," Governor Walker remembers.  "It is one of those where we are hesitating adding more full-time positions."

"Governor Walker is fiercely opposed to the expansion of health care coverage to 33 million Americans," Kind responds.  "That's what you would expect him to say.  But there is just no evidence backing it up."

"My concerns coming in were just it seems like a very confusing issue.  And I would say it is less confusing now," relents Financial Advisor Mike Pope.  "They did a good job of breaking things out and answering a lot of questions with regards to what the tax relief was going to be for some people."

"When I look at it from somebody who already has health insurance, you don't have to do anything.  This is a no-brainer," says James Murphy, who is retired and already has health insurance.  "This is really affecting the people who are underinsured or have no insurance who are using our hospital emergency rooms and costing us more and more money."

Some questions answered while others cannot be until coverage begins to kick in on January 1st.  The open enrollment period begins October 1st.  The last date you can enroll to ensure coverage by January 1st is December 15th.  For more information on how the process will work, you can go to HealthCare.gov or Marketplace.cms.gov.

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