On Thursday, 17 News recorded a forum at our studios with local experts, on the Affordable Care Act.
The forum will air this Sunday after the NFL football game on TV-17.
The discussion will be moderated by our Rachelle Murcia and Kiyoshi Tomono.
The idea is to foster a discussion free of political spin and focus on how this new law affects your family's access to medical care.
From the floor debates to the first stroke of the President's pen... there was a healthy amount of political disagreement over health care reform.
Now, that some of the dust has settled, we wanted to put politics aside and examine how the health care law really affects our county.
"Mostly payment reform, insurance reform. It's focusing on what we buy."
Dr. Harry Jacobson is part of the medical group that operates the Bakersfield Heart Hospital.
"You know, the most expensive medical device in the world? The pen. It's not a stent. It's not an MRI machine. It's a doctor's pen," said Dr. Jacobson. Because, he says, doctors decide which expensive medical tests and procedures are ordered.
"I get paid 15 cents on the dollar for taking care of patients, but this pen tells you how Medicare spends the other 85 cents," he continued.
The law mandates everyone have health care coverage, if not on their own, then through their employer or an exchange.
But, even with that, KMC CEO Paul Hensler says there are misconceptions.
"There is a premium, depending on income. So, the idea that all health care will be free under health care reform really isn't accurate. Even people at 200 percent of the federal poverty level would be paying a premium of some sort," said Hensler.
The questions out there are many.
How will exchanges work?
What penalty do you pay if you opt out of insurance?
Will this cost small businesses more money, and if so, how much?
That's why 17 News is bringing together seven area medical professionals to sit down at our studios. The idea is to strip the conversation of heated rhetoric and drill down into how this law already changes how local health care is delivered.
"It's really unfortunate it's been politicized by one side of the other. It is a phenomenally complex issue."
Our panelists see patients from all walks of life, from the rich to the poor, the covered to the uninsured.
And, make no mistake, our experts say, the affordable care law will affect each of you who watches the forum.
"Reasonable people can disagree, but they need to disagree on the facts and the issues. There is so much misinformation being spread, frankly from both sides."
Our forum airs this Sunday after the Steelers-Broncos football game on TV-17.
After Sunday, it will be posted on our website, www.kget.com and will be available on Brighthouse on demand.
Plus, our panelists will be available to answer your followup questions by email after our forum airs. You can email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.