Tim Hodge, executive director of the Hope Clinic, was the guest speaker of the Jasper Rotary Club Tuesday when he made the comments regarding the federal statute commonly referred to as “Obamacare.”
Hodge said he gets more questions about how the PPACA signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010, will affect the Hope Clinic than any other topic.
Although Hodge said he has high hopes for what the plan may eventually accomplish, he said the PPACA will not provide truly universal health care coverage.
“If a true plan comes along that will provide quality health care (coverage) to every individual in America, that would be a wonderful thing; we’re not against that at all,” Hodge said. “One problem with the national health care bill is it is not true universal health care: It’s not health care for every American that we hear a lot of times as it is portrayed in the media.”
Hodge said figures from the Congressional Budget Office last year estimate that currently about 32 million American citizens are without health insurance.
“By 2019 — after the health care plan has been in effect, fully funded, fully functional — by 2019, the number of Americans who won’t have health care (insurance) is 23 million,” Hodge said. “So, that’s still a huge number of folks who won’t be covered.”
Hodge said he is also concerned about funding for the PPACA.
“Due to the political environment, some portions of the health care bill have not been funded like they were supposed to,” said Hodge who added he is also concerned about waivers that would allow corporations to be exempt from the government’s requirement regarding health care insurance plans offered to employees.
“There are still a lot of things about the health care plan that are unsettled,” he said. “We’ve got another election coming up in 2012, and no one really knows what is going to happen at that time.”
Hodge said uncertainty about the future of health care in the United States has created difficulty with fundraising and grant writing for the Hope Clinic, the facility’s only means of financial support.
“A lot of people are confused as to what the need is for a free health care clinic,” he said.
Also, Hodge said changes in the health care law have affected Medicaid and Medicare.
“It is creating a situation where it is much more difficult for a lot of people to qualify, ... So it has increased our volume,” Hodge said.
Despite his concerns, Hodge called the PPACA “a wonderful plan.”
“There will be a lot of people who have insurance who don’t have it today — people who we can’t reach; people who other clinics can’t reach,” Hodge said. “So parts of it — and the theory behind it — is a wonderful idea.”
Also on Tuesday, Hodge talked about how contributions to the Hope Clinic have been affected by the downturn of the U.S. economy is recent years.
“The people who two years ago could donate $1,000 for a free clinic; they’re now donating $200. The people who two years ago could donate $200 are now some of our patients because of the way the economy has affected everyone,” he said. “There are a lot of people calling who a year ago wouldn’t have dreamed they would be a Hope Clinic patient.”