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Foundation to host town hall meeting on health care reform

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The Missouri Foundation for Health is hosting a town hall forum today at 7 p.m. at Missouri State University's Plaster Student Union to answer questions local residents might have about health care reform under the Affordable Care Act.

“The town hall is intended to be civil discourse,” said Michelle Miller, the public policy liaison for MFH. “But we wouldn’t encourage an event with everyone having the same ideas. We intentionally engage groups with conflicting opinions. We need a diverse group to get a real picture of what Springfield looks like - how they feel about it.”

The meeting will start with open questions, allowing people opportunities to voice concerns they’ve heard regarding the law. Then, analysts will talk citizens through what was right and wrong about their understanding of the reform.

For the last two years, MFH has held more than 120 meetings similar to tonight's planned event, engaging more than 8,000 Missourians on reform law. Thomas McAuliffe, a policy analyst with MFH and a speaker for tonight's event, has worked nearly all of them.

“It’s our position that lots of people aren’t talking about what’s in the law,” McAuliffe said. “At 2,500 pages, the law is very complicated, and 30-second sound bites don’t lend themselves to comprehension.”

McAuliffe said he’s been studying the U.S. health care system for eight years, and it’s taken him the last five years to be able to clearly articulate the workings of the system and reform.

“We have the experience and the information to help people come to their own conclusions. That is what this is about - empowerment," he said.

MFH is clear about being a nonpartisan organization, Miller said, noting the organization doesn't lobby for or against reform legislation.

“We are very fact-driven,” she said. “There were so many different versions; people don’t understand what made it in and what didn’t. The way it was passed was so messy; we know people want to understand what’s included and how it will affect them.”

Miller pointed to people wanting to know how their small businesses and families will be affected; about changes in costs and screenings; about the level of governmental involvement; and about changes to Medicare and Medicaid.

Among the key points of contention is the individual mandate, requiring all Americans to buy insurance. This has been both upheld and struck down by some of the states' Supreme Courts and appeals courts. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the mandate later this year.

MFH also is releasing 10 videos each addressing a specific topic within health care reform. Topics include small businesses, insurance requirements, effects on rural committees, costs and Medicare impacts.

The videos are scheduled to go live at CoverMissouri.org sometime today.

“These videos are meant to be a starting point for interesting people into getting more information,” McAuliffe said. “People can e-mail us for more information, or they can even scheduled myself or another speaker to come discuss the reform with a group.”

Cover Missouri is MFH’s campaign to travel the state informing Missourians about health care reform, serve the un- and underinsured of the state, and bring affordable health care to all Show-Me State citizens.

Missouri was one of four states to see a rise in uninsured citizens, according to the latest Census data. There are approximately 800,000 uninsured in the state.[[In-content Ad]]

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