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Forum to cover health care act

A public forum on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – at least the third such local session since late August – is planned at 1 p.m. Sunday at the downtown Allen County Public Library.

The next event aims to clear up confusion, dispel rumors and correct misinformation about last year’s rollout of the health care law, organizer Dr. Jonathan Walker said.

Sunday’s forum is “to try to answer questions and help people understand how they can benefit from the law,” Walker said in a telephone interview.

Sunday’s discussion will include Walker, a retinal surgeon who teaches at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Fort Wayne; Mary Haupert, chief executive officer of the non-profit Neighborhood Health Clinics; and Abe Schwab, a medical ethicist and associate professor of philosophy at IPFW.

Haupert was a panelist at forums in August and November, and Schwab was a panelist at the November forum.

Walker said he has heard from patients who have put off applying for private insurance offered through the Affordable Care Act.

“They’ve either been reluctant to sign up or they felt it wasn’t even worth trying based on misinformation,” Walker said.

Some have been unaware of federal subsidies that can reduce their premium costs, he said. And other patients are unduly worried that their Medicare benefits will be adversely affected by the Affordable Care Act, he added.

Walker said much of the confusion stems from divisive political debate over merits of the law. Democrats tend to support the Affordable Care Act, while many Republicans want it repealed.

“It’s just become so polarized that it’s hard for people to get down to the actual facts,” Walker said.

Open enrollment in insurance plans began Oct. 1 and continues until March 31. The next enrollment period will begin Nov. 15.

People who lack employer-provided medical insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or the Healthy Indiana Plan and who don’t obtain insurance through the Affordable Care Act can face fines that might be deducted from their federal income tax refunds by the Internal Revenue Service.

bfrancisco@jg.net

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