Health care discussion planned

To look at changes under federal law

yamaro@mercedsunstar.comDecember 8, 2012 

— Mercedians will have the opportunity today to hear experts talk about health care issues, including the changes that are coming with the federal Affordable Care Act.

The free event, "A Right to Health Care," is scheduled to take place from 2:30 to 5 p.m. at United Methodist Church, 899 Yosemite Park Way. Refreshments will be provided at the event, organized by the California Central Valley Journey for Justice.

It will feature a panel discussion and the public will have the opportunity to ask questions, said Eduardo Castro, one of the organizers.

The panelists will include registered nurse Joyce Mills; Ethel Long-Scott, executive director of the Women's Economic Agenda Project; and physician Teresa Sandoval-Phillips, Castro said.

Health care reform is complicated, he said, and some people might not fully understand what will be required from them under the new law.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the center of Obama's health care mandate as constitutional. The highly debated individual mandate for all Americans to have health care insurance beginning in 2014 was upheld to be constitutional as a tax. Those who don't have coverage when the law is fully implemented would have to pay a penalty.

"People should attend to get more information on the Affordable Care Act -- it's a big thing that concerns the whole nation," Castro said.

California was the first state to implement key components of the law.

Gloria Sandoval, Journey for Justice president, said panels such as this one are important for people to become informed. Depending on who shows up, there will be an opportunity to hear a summary of the presentations in Spanish, she said.

Handouts with information will be provided, Sandoval said, for people to do more reading on their own.

"I'm going to be learning more myself because everything keeps changing as it evolves," she said of health care reform.

Attendees will learn more than just what's available under the Affordable Care Act, she said. They will get information on health care options as well as the challenges of the health care system and how it could be improved.

"Sometimes people can't afford insurance, and they don't go to the doctor; and sometimes their situation worsens, and it's more expensive later," she said.

The organization coordinated the event in commemoration of the 64th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Castro said.

Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or yamaro@mercedsunstar.com.

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