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WISPIRG talks health care law, how it affects students

UW professor encourages young people to set aside their politics for this issue
Matt Huppert

WISPIRG talks health care law, how it affects students


UW professor encourages young people to set aside their politics for this issue


By Matt Huppert
Thursday, September 23, 2010 7:55 p.m.
Updated Friday, September 24, 2010 12:09:42 a.m.



Today, as the first provisions of the new federal health care law go into effect, the Wisconsin Student Public Interest Research Group held a press conference addressing the law and the effects it will have on students.


The law, a major product of the health care reform enacted by the Obama Administration and formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, was signed six months ago on March 23, 2010.


Speakers at the conference included Robert Kraig, executive director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, State Rep. Kelda Helen Roys, D-Madison, and State Sen. Jon Erpenbach.


Allie Gardner, UW sophomore and health coordinator for WISPIRG, said the motivation behind the press conference was informing students about the health care provision going into effect.


One of these provisions will allow anyone to stay on their parents’ insurance plan until he or she turns 26-years old. Therefore, students will not have to pay for health insurance coming out of college, something Gardner said will provide much needed relief for graduates.


“When students graduate a lot of them are going to have debt, and there’s no way — with either looking for health coverage or going without it — that we as students could deal with that,” Gardner said.


Another key provision going into effect today will prevent health insurance companies from dropping a policy due to paperwork errors. If a plan is dropped, the holder will be able to appeal the decision.


In addition to the press conference, WISPIRG also released The Young Person’s Guide to Health Insurance. The guide, which is available on their website, explores the key points of the Affordable Care Act, as well as the options and rights it will provide for students.


Before the law was signed last March, Congress engaged in a heated debate over health care reform that lasted several months. Today, the law continues to be seen by some as a partisan measure.


UW Professor Thomas Oliver of the School of Medicine and Public Health expressed his concern about the negativity surrounding the law and said he hopes it will eventually be judged with respect to its policies and not the surrounding politics.


Many important provisions of the bill will impact young people as much as older ones, Oliver said, but the effects of the provisions become lost when parties bicker about the role of government.


Oliver also cautioned college students from ignoring the health care issue until they are older.


“As they want Medicare and Medicaid and other programs to be solid and available to them and their families as they get older, they should be supporting the system now and trying to bring these things together and build a stable pool that covers almost all Americans,” Oliver said.


Stephen Duerst, chair of UW’s College Republicans said the complications of the bill rest in its size, but Republicans are set to fix the provisions.


“Today the Republicans released their reform for America to take the bill back and re-do it,” Duerst said. “I think it’s a smart plan…too much government is never a good thing.”