Three months later, plenty of confusion still surrounds the new law.
In an effort to clear up some of the uncertainty, Congressman Anthony Weiner hosted a town hall-style meeting May 5 at St. Margaret School in Middle Village, where he spent nearly two hours addressing community concerns about health care.
Middle Village resident Joseph Kuhn, an independent contractor, said he could end up paying as much as $27,000 next year to insure his family.
“It’s getting to the point where now, I am paying nearly a quarter of my yearly income for health insurance,” Kuhn said. “Not being insured is out of the question, but I am simply running out of options.”
Weiner called Kuhn’s situation the perfect example of why the reform bill was necessary.
“People often ask me, ‘Why make changes at all? The system is fine,’” Weiner said. “Tell that to this gentleman who is being forced to make an impossible decision.”
Weiner said under the bill the government would provide subsidies for households making below $80,000 per year. The bill is also designed to encourage more citizens to get insurance, which in theory would drive down the cost as insurance companies compete for more customers.
Anthony Pedalino spoke of a different, but equally troubling dilemma facing many elderly residents in the community.
“My wife is 61 and she was cut off from her insurance by her employer, but I was on that insurance as well,” said Pedalino, who lives in Middle Village. “It has really put us in a tough position as many insurance companies simply deny us because of our age.”
Older citizens who may have had difficulty in the past obtaining affordable insurance will now receive assistance, as preexisting conditions are no longer grounds for denying insurance, Weiner said.
“If you go out into the individual market at age 60 or 61 insurance companies don’t want any part of you, so they will drive the price way up,” Weiner said. “This reform will help with that as it will provide you with a subsidy and make it more affordable.”
With tens of millions of Americans currently uninsured and healthcare costs rising by 20 percent every year, Weiner said changes to the current system were overdue. While the bill passed by Congress has some flaws, it is more viable than the alternative, he said.
“The bill is far from perfect and not what I would have written, but it has tremendous advantages over the status quo, which was unsustainable,” Weiner said.
“I can’t look into my crystal ball and say with metaphysical certainty that this will succeed, but it is my belief the bill will be a success,” Weiner said. “But regardless, I can tell you this. It can’t get worse than what it is.”
Rep. Anthony Weiner talks health care at a town hall meeting in Middle Village.