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VOL. 129 | NO. 60 | Thursday, March 27, 2014

Seminar Explores Complicated Details of Health Care Law

By Don Wade

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The Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, became law in 2010.

But the law has grown and changed so much since then that its pages number more than 25,000, and if you stack them one on top of another they are more than 10 feet high, says Tim Finnell, founder and president of Group Benefits LLC.

Finnell, a certified health care reform specialist, will be one of the panelists at the Thursday, April 3, Health Care Reform Seminar presented by The Daily News Publishing Co. Inc. The seminar, which is part of The Daily News’ 2014 Seminar Series, begins at 3:30 p.m. in the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art auditorium, 1934 Poplar Ave.

Dr. Scott Morris, founder and CEO of the Church Health Center, will deliver the keynote address. Joining Finnell on the panel will be Dale Condor, attorney at Rainey, Kizer, Reviere & Bell PLC, and Mitch Graves, president and CEO at Health Choice LLC.

To say the health care law is complicated is an understatement. In 2013, a Carnegie Mellon University study found that more than 85 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 not only didn’t understand the Affordable Care Act, they also didn’t really grasp health insurance in general.

As for that law that runs more than 25,000 pages, Morris says it is “unintelligible.” And this is from someone who is a proponent of universal health care, but finds the Affordable Care Act something short of flawless.

“I can assure you nobody asked our opinion,” Morris said, referring to problems in the law, including gaps in coverage because not every state, including Tennessee, expanded Medicaid.

Morris also says improving the law has not been helped by the fact supporters of President Barack Obama seem to believe that they have to be 100 percent for everything in the Affordable Care Act, and the president’s opponents seem to believe that they have to be 100 percent against everything in it.

“In my opinion, the law is about 60 percent good and 40 percent bad. It’s not 100 percent anything,” Morris said.

To be sure, the law has many layers. It’s not just about how it impacts individuals who may or may not purchase health insurance through the marketplace exchanges, but about hospitals and doctors and how health care is delivered and made accessible. It’s about the impact on companies, large and small, and how they go about complying with the act and also controlling their costs.

“People are trying to understand compliance,” Finnell said.

And companies that are not in compliance can be in line for some large fines.

“Employers are very concerned about that,” Graves said.

Reform, then, is rather like a large construction project with many people having a hand in producing the finished product. And in this case, that’s countless years into the future.

“The intent of the ACA is to get more people insurance coverage,” Graves said. “In concept, a great idea. But with anything of that magnitude, the devil is in the details.”

Seating is limited. To register or for more information, visit seminars.memphisdailynews.com, or contact Leah Sansing at 528-8122 or leah@memphisdailynews.com. A wine-and-cheese reception will follow the event.

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