State hosts town hall meeting on health care law

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Friday, September 27, 2013

JANESVILLE--Premium tax credits, cost-sharing subsidies, plan levels and dozens of other details concerning the Affordable Care Act were all briefly reviewed at a town hall meeting Thursday.

The meeting, which was held at UW-Rock County, was one of 14 throughout the state by the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, said J. P. Wieske, spokesman for the office.

About 40 people attended the meeting at UW-Rock County. Throughout the meeting they peppered Wieske with questions ranging from “what's the difference between plans” and “can insurance companies change their rates in the middle of the year?”

And finally, the question that was on everybody's mind, “how much will our premiums cost?”

“There's a lot of uncertainty out there,” said Wieske.

That statement could have applied to any of the issues surrounding the new law. 

People also wondered how they could get more help to navigate the system.

The state has official “navigators” and “certified application counselors.”  Both have undergone state testing, Wieske said. .

Wieske said that he didn't think that Rock County had any navigators, but several agencies would have certified application counselors.

At a Rock County Board of Supervisors meeting later Thursday, Human Services Director Charmain Klyve explained how her department is getting ready for the changes.

One of the plans includes making a resource list of people, institutions and non-profits that can help people navigate the system. That list, which will be available Monday, could include certified application counselors. 

Meanwhile, Rock County is getting ready for the onslaught of calls related to changes in state and federal health care laws. 

The county's human services department deals with low-income people who are on BadgerCare. The state has changed the eligibility rules, and people who previously qualified for  BadgerCare will now have to get insurance through the "marketplace" set up by the federal government.  

In addition, another group of people who previously were on the BadgerCare waiting list will now qualify for the program.

The state estimates that Rock County will have to process at least 4,900 inquiries concerning the changes between October and the end of December.

Last updated: 6:54 am Friday, September 27, 2013

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