Forum on Obamacare planned

STEUBENVILLE – How will “Obamacare” affect you?

The GFWC/OFWC Woman’s Club of Steubenville hopes to bring into focus that blurry issue when it sponsors a public forum on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the coming months.

It will be held at 1:30 p.m. on June 3 at a location to be announced. The framework will include government representatives from the federal, state and local level presenting the issues while accountants, business owners/employers, pharmaceuticals, insurance and religious leaders, for example, will be on hand for discussion and questions.

The club voted unanimously at its April luncheon meeting held Monday at the Steubenville Country Club to organize the forum, holding it in place of its final meeting of the 2012-13 club season. The action comes on the heels, however, of discussion in recent months by the club’s executive board.

Donna Keagler, who will serve as forum moderator, told her fellow club members Monday that talk of a membership drive fostered the discussion on the health care bill and how it generates more questions than answers.

“People don’t really know what’s in it, and we keep hearing bits and pieces from the news, but there’s no real clarification,” Keagler said after the meeting.

“In order to get a clarification, we’re asking the people who actually deal with it – federally, in the state, in the county, in the city and those people who are trying to implement it – our doctors, lawyers, insurance sales people, our businesses, we’re bringing them all together in a forum to address the Tri-State Area and give people an understanding of what’s going on,” Keagler said.

The forum will feature a PowerPoint presentation by Sara Pouton, a field representative for U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, specializing in health, Social Security and Medicare.

The panel so far includes Jackie Stewart, district director for Johnson’s office; Al Macre, accountant; Kathy Maguschak, McBane Insurance; David LaRue, elder care attorney; J.J. Bernabei, Tri-State Pharmacy owner; Ann Quillen, Jefferson County Fourth Street Health Center director; and Michael Hernon, vice president of advancement at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

“We will have a presenter who will give a PowerPoint presentation, then we will have people who simply sit on the panel who will be able to answer questions from the public,” Keagler said.

The forum is open to anyone interested in learning about the bill, what it includes and how it will affect the cost of insurance and health care.

“It’s for anybody who wants to be informed because as we understand it, it will affect all of us – our insurance or maybe, who knows, our Medicare, our long-term care, we don’t know, that’s the reason we’re doing it,” Keagler said.

“That’s exactly right,” agreed Kathy Mills, club president, whose attempt to read some of the lengthy health care bill left her with questions, not answers.

“As I understand it, a lot of the insurance companies are no longer going to be able to afford to offer the same coverage that they did before for the same kind of money, which makes a lot of sense,” Keagler said.

Admission to the forum is free, but seating is limited, and tickets will be required. The deadline will be May 27. Tickets will be available at Balkun Insurance in Toronto, (740) 537-3811; the Center of Music and Art in Wintersville, (740) 264-3111; Heritage Home Health Care in Toronto, (740) 537-1352; and Tri-State Pharmacy in Weirton, (304) 723-6331.

While the forum is open to women and men, it also will look to attract new members.

At the club’s business luncheon, Mills reminded members how women’s clubs throughout history have had a significant impact – from establishing libraries and playing a part in the passage of women’s right to vote to raising funds for worthy causes and playing a part in passing the Violence Against Women Act and the Lily Ledbetter Equal Pay Act.

“Women’s clubs have done a lot more than just meet and greet,” Keagler said.