State Rep. Tony Hwang (R-134) hosted a panel discussion last week with health care experts and business leaders at Sacred Heart University on the Federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) & Connecticut Healthcare Exchange.

Rep. Hwang moderated the expert panel in areas of health care, insurance and small business. It was assembled to answer questions and share the possible impact and consequences on small businesses, the self-insured, independent contractors, senior citizens, and people with pre-existing conditions, state HUSKY participants and anyone who is currently uninsured.

A full capacity crowd had several questions about newly implemented health care law and its implication on their personal health insurance coverage and costs. Some of the questions were about the effect on Senior’s Medicare and supplemental insurance coverage, the role of employers and picking medical plans, individuals, self-employed and independent contractors and how ACA will affect their healthcare plan options.

The expert panel offered many perspectives and scenarios but stressed to the audience to read the details of each plan carefully and seek professional counsel because of local and regional complexities and coverage differences.

“Our role as elected leaders in our community is to inform and represent the interest and concerns of our constituency,” Rep. Hwang said. “It is critical and extremely important for our community to understand what these new health care programs mean for each citizen here in Connecticut.

“There will be an impact on everyone from the self-insured to senior citizens to small businesses. This forum is not a platform to condemn or condone ACA (Obamacare). Our mission is to address issues and answer questions about healthcare and insurance coverage to help our residents navigate the confusing and emotional process of choosing and paying for their healthcare insurance,” Hwang said.

The participating panelists included:

• State Senator Kevin Kelly, Ranking Member of the Aging and Insurance Committees

• Phil Boyle, Business to Business Outreach Manager at Access Health CT

• Tim Tracy, Co-Founder, InsuringCT.com, Health Insurance Broker

• Julie Rosenbaum, MD, Associate Professor at Yale University School of Medicine

• Beverly Balaz, Executive Director, Fairfield Chamber of Commerce

• Byron Campbell, Co-Partner, Firelight Media - A Small Digital Media Business Owner

• Mickey Herbert, Interim CEO, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care

Beverly Balaz articulated the interest and concerns of her membership on the Chamber of Commerce and reinforced the importance of such an informational outreach program.

“My thanks to Rep. Hwang for arranging the panel meeting to explain the details of the Affordable Care Act which is so important to our community small business membership,” Balaz said. “The level of expertise with regard to the knowledge base on this subject was impressive, and as such, the Chamber, which acts as a resource for the small business community in Fairfield, appreciated the significant and valuable information that was discussed specific to small businesses!”

State Senator Kevin Kelly (R-21st), an expert on elder care law addressed Senior’s Medicare concerns.

“Most seniors will not be directly impacted by the Affordable Care Act because they already have health coverage through Medicare, which remains a separate program,” Kelly said. “If you already have Medicare supplemental insurance policies are not available through the new health insurance exchange, so your coverage will stay the same.”

Kelly cautioned about some of the unintended consequences of healthcare reform.

“The Affordable Care Act creates many new reforms whose purpose is to improve quality, increase access and reduce the cost of our healthcare,” he said. “Unfortunately, when it comes to the most expensive area of health care, long-term care, the ACA falls short and does not bring us any closer to growing our local community-based health services, which offer less expensive and more effective forms of treatment and care at home, which is where we all want to be.”

Yale University Primary Care Residency faculty member, Julie Rosenbaum, MD offered healthcare provider perspective on the ACA beyond the cost and coverage concerns. “One of the major benefits of the Affordable Care Act is the emphasis on prevention, making it easier for people to get the care and information they need to stay out of the hospital,” she said. “It is so important for physicians to be involved in the discussion about how to make our health care system more effective, affordable, and accessible.

The Forum on Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) & CT Healthcare Exchange was taped by Community Public Access Programming and will be on Trumbull Community Television. Visit trumbullps.tv for the schedule.