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Health-care reform forum draws overflow Yuba City crowd
Much remains unknown about the federal Affordable Care Act that begins Jan. 1, people who packed into a town hall forum Friday in Yuba City were told.
"We're talking the federal government here," Assemblyman Dan Logue said. "Everybody's going to have health coverage. But is everybody going to get health care?
"The people in California really have no idea where we're headed," he said.
Logue, R-Loma Rica, and the Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce hosted the forum held in the City Council chambers, and attracting an overflow crowd of about 75 people to discuss the measure Congress passed in 2011 and signed into law by President Barack Obama.
David Panush, director of government relations for the California Health Benefit Exchange that will provide health-care plans, was among the four-member panel of speakers.
"No one has done what we're about to do," Panush said. "We're not going to get it right the first time."
He said the exchange receives calls daily asking when California residents can buy coverage under the new federal care act. Panush said he has told people to wait until January.
Ken DeVore, legislative director of the National Federation of Independent Business in California, said the 1,000 pages of the original legislation nearly tripled with amendments. The regulations for the act cover about 13,000 pages.
"It's going to be very tough on business — particularly small business," DeVore said.
"The rules — who does what — keep changing all the time," DeVore said. "I liken it to baiting a hook with an active worm."
Dr. Richard Thorp of Butte County, president-elect of the California Medical Association and a panelist, said the federal law is a health insurance reform measure — not a reform of health care.
The law will add more than 5 million people in the state to health insurance coverage when the workforce of physicians is aging and more doctors are needed, he said.
"You don't have to do the math too hard to figure out that they're some problems," Thorp said.
He called the law probably the biggest change in the way health care is delivered since Medicare began in the 1960s.
Dr. Herbert Gladen, a surgeon in Colusa, spoke from the audience and said 22 percent of doctors in California were trained in another country.
"We're looting the world" for doctors, Gladen said.
CONTACT Ryan McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4780. Find him on Facebook at /ADrmccarthy or on Twitter at @ADrmccarthy.