By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
VAN NUYS, Calif.–At a recent health and wellness mixer hosted by the San Fernando Filipino American Chamber of Commerce, the Affordable Care Act, known as “Obamacare” was a hot topic, as Republican lawmakers spent the past week talking about its repeal to help the country fix its budget deficits.
Amidst the criticisms, the Obama administration released a report on Monday, showing that since certain care provisions have taken effect in 2010, the legislation has provided free preventive care services such as check-ups, mammograms and flu shots, many of it coming through local community health clinics, like the one that 59-year-old Julie Obaldo has been using for the past year. “It’s OK. It gives medicine, it’s free,” she said.
This week, Obamacare is celebrating its third anniversary since its passage, and is continuing to roll out provisions. While many are still trying to figure out how the plan works, Filipino business leaders say they are already feeling the pinch.
Flor Lara, who helps run a home health care staffing agency, says Obamacare has been difficult for their business because of changes to the Medicare program that make the state’s Medi-Cal program the main insurer for some elderly patients. “Bad for the business, especially for home health because everything is HMO and you should have to accredit to the primary insurance. If you don’t have any accreditation to the primary insurance, you cannot enter into this kind of business,” she explained.
Insurance broker Delia Saradpon describes herself as an independent voter. She says business has picked up as more families have sought her advice, as they look to fulfill the 2014 mandate that requires everyone to have health coverage. She says the law will simply allow families to shop for affordable health insurance despite possible tax increases. “The most I can do is to help our kababayans and other clients who need my help but personally I think there will be a lot of confusion in this program and it’s been affecting families in the sense that taxes will be raised,” she said.
San Fernando Filipino American Chamber of Commerce Co-Founder Noel Omega, an outspoken Republican who also runs bookkeeping and information technology services says the requirement for employers to insure workers will only encourage businesses to continue hiring contract workers. “If you employ people (full time) then you must also look at the possibility of including benefits for health care, for life coverage, for whatever additional coverage they need in the budget,” he explained.
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