New England News
6:00 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Effects of Healthcare Reform on Berkshire County

The Federal Health Care Law has people divided across the country, but how will it affect access to care in Massachusetts -a state with its own insurance mandate in place since 2006? WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

Chip Joffee-Halpern, executive director of Ecu Healthcare – a private organization in North Adams that connects citizens with health care options – says that the Affordable Care Act will help fill in some of the gaps in coverage for those who may be ineligible for Massachusetts’ Commonwealth Care – but can’t afford their own coverage.

He says that the federal law guidelines that determine need based on income will help many.

Mike Supranowicz, president and CEO of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, says that most small businesses in Berkshire County have dealt with the challenges of covering their employees for years now, so many will have less of a challenge than those in other states. He did mention however, that the effects of differences between state and federal law remain to be seen.

Supranowicz mentioned that the existing state law has been successful in covering employees and more work is being done to help reduce costs for businesses.

Paul Hopkins, spokesman for Northern Berkshire Healthcare – owner and operator of North Adams Regional Hospital – says that the healthcare industry here is prepared.

Northern Berkshire Healthcare very recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in party by employing strategies to make work more efficient and by learning to do more with less, something federal health care reform requires hospitals to do. Hopkins mentions that many health care organizations have already had to deal with lower reimbursements.

Hopkins also said research shows that the federal law can help reduce costs.

The general public still remains firmly divided on the issue.

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