The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 1, 2012

Economic Summit to examine health care

Dave Sutor
dsutor@tribdem.com

— How will the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act affect local businesses?

That is a question the Greater Johns­town/Cambria County Chamber of Commerce wants to help answer during its annual Economic Summit on Nov. 9 at the Pasquerilla Conference Center downtown.

The event will include a keynote speech by Carolyn Scanlan, president and CEO of The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.

Scanlan was named one of the 100 most influential people in the healthcare field by the industry publication Modern Healthcare in 2006 and 2007.

She will discuss the local impact of the health care act, based on information culled from the chamber’s recent economic survey.

“I think people generally don’t understand (the health care law),” Scanlan said.

The Affordable Care Act was signed by President Barack Obama, a Demo­-crat, in 2010.

Some major provisions are set to begin Jan. 1, 2014, including a prohibition against insurance companies denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions, the establishment of insurance exchanges and a mandate requiring nearly all Americans to purchase insurance or pay a penalty.

Obamacare, as the program is known, has been one of the nation’s most divisive pieces of legislation in recent decades.

It impacted the 2010 midterm elections when Republicans’ opposition to the law helped mobilize conservative voters and create a GOP majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The massive overhaul to the health care system also has been an often-debated subject during this voting cycle, which will conclude with the general election on Tuesday.

Republicans might try to repeal all or part of the health care act if they gain control of the Senate and presidency, along with maintaining a majority in the House, which could lead to another major change in the way businesses handle health care.

“It’s certainly been a hot issue in the political arena,” said Robert Layo, the local chamber’s president.

U.S. Rep. Mark Critz, D-Johnstown, also will speak at the summit.

“The health care industry is the largest employer in Johnstown, and I’m looking forward to learning from those in attendance what we can do to grow jobs and to improve patient access and care,” Critz said.

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