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Mitchell residents favor some segments of 'Obamacare'

The Supreme Court's decision to uphold most of the Affordable Health Care Act -- widely-known as "Obamacare" -- made it a hot topic in the city. Some people in Mitchell said they agree with parts of the bill and disagree with other sections. Nell...

The Supreme Court's decision to uphold most of the Affordable Health Care Act -- widely-known as "Obamacare" -- made it a hot topic in the city.

Some people in Mitchell said they agree with parts of the bill and disagree with other sections.

Nellie Houska, of Mitchell, said she's in favor of the health care law.

"I appreciate what [President Obama] is doing," she said. "I agree with it."

Medicare and Medicaid are important to seniors, disabled and low-income citizens, said Delores Weber, of Mitchell, so she is in favor of the health care reform law as well.

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"Medicare needs to stay the way it is," she said.

She said she's happy that those who have pre-existing conditions will also be covered under the health care law.

Rebecca Arnold, of Mitchell, is a retired educator who is not in favor of the overall bill.

"There are some segments that are beneficial," she said. "But it's the hidden things, the things we can't see, that's what's frightening. It makes you feel trapped."

Arnold said health care reform is definitely needed. She believes many people are misusing programs like Medicare and Medicaid -- typically using the programs when they don't need them.

"It depletes all necessary funding for the people who need it," Arnold said.

She said the reform needs to take into account the real needs of all Americans. In her years of working with people of all classes, Arnold said when some misuse or abuse government assistance, everyone suffers.

For example, when the government sends an alcoholic to a rehabilitation center for treatment and allows them to go back to the same environment in which they became an alcoholic, that's a waste of money.

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"There are more issues [with health care] than just making it more available," she said.

Henry Fergen, of Mitchell, said the law is a good idea, but there are drawbacks.

"It's going to cost some money," he said.

Although Fergen already has health care, he said it's good the law will allow for coverage of people with pre-existing conditions.

At Avera Queen of Peace in Mitchell, Tom Clark, the president and CEO, said the health care law gives health care providers the opportunity to improve the health of the people they serve.

Clark said the law makes care more accessible to those who don't have the means to get it otherwise.

He said the biggest effects for Avera Queen of Peace will be that the hospital's bad debt will go down, charity care will decrease and the hospital will have a steadier stream of revenue.

Clark said patients who don't have insurance may feel now that they can seek medical attention and Avera may be able to do a better job on prevention.

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"If you can work with a diabetic along the way before they become a train wreck, that's better than the cost to take care of them once things are really out of control," he said.

On a financial side, Avera overall also benefits from the health care law because it's able to keep $24 million per year it receives through the Accountable Care Act. Had the health care law been struck down, Avera would have lost all that funding, Clark said.

Although the health care act will help millions, he said, like any law, there are good portions and bad portions.

"No law is perfect," he said. "I don't think any law, especially of this magnitude, is perfect."

Clark said health care officials have been dealing in uncertainty as portions of the health law have been put into effect. For example, many health care facilities, including Avera Queen of Peace, have invested a lot of money in electronic patient records.

Health care facilities were required by the law to implement several pieces of the Accountable Care Act by certain timelines or face penalties.

"Health care providers all over the country ... have spent millions and millions of dollars on upgrading their IT systems, developing electronic records and so forth," Clark said. "And that's not going to go away. And that's not necessarily a bad thing."

Chris Huber/Republic

Avera Queen of Peace CEO Tom Clark talks about how the Supreme Court's ruling Thursday will affect the hospital.

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