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Affordable Care Act forum planned

NATCHEZ — Miss-Lou residents confused about the Affordable Care Act are invited to a public forum in two weeks.

Natchez Mayor Butch Brown said the forum would focus on the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to by some people as Obamacare. The public forum will be from 5 to 7 p.m., Nov. 14, at the Natchez City Auditorium.

“People should be given an education in what the Affordable Care Act is, does and does not do,” Brown said. “It’s just the city stepping out to educate those people who might need or warrant needing this product as a consequence of this law.

“We’re going to make this an event such that at the end of the program, many questions have been answered and those that haven’t, (attendees) will know who to call to get their individual questions answered.”

Brown said he is working with the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Mississippi Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn, State Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, various area hospitals, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi, United Healthcare and Humana to secure program panelists to explain provisions of the health care law.

Discussion is expected to include coverage for young adults, stopping insurance companies from dropping coverage, denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions, annual, lifetime dollar limits and more, Brown said.

Six to eight people will take the platform Nov. 14, making five-minute presentations from their perspectives, covering federal to purchaser concerns.

Chaney, whose office will participate in the forum, said the Affordable Care Act requires every state have an operational health insurance exchange, either established by the state or federal government by Jan. 1.

“Mississippi’s marketplace, which is called the Health Insurance Market Place, was established and is operated by the federal government,” Chaney said. “Although enrollment in the Health Insurance Market Place opened on Oct. 1, 2013, there is no need to rush out to purchase a plan. Mississippians should take their time and get as much information as they can before making a decision as to the plan that best suits their and their family’s needs.”

Chaney said anyone with questions about the Marketplace should call the Federal Marketplace call center at 1-800-318-2596.

Brown is promoting the forum as a “non-biased, non-political, non-opinionated program of education where the law will be discussed.”

After about 30 minutes of opening remarks from the panelists, Brown said, a question-and-answer session would begin. Only written questions will be accepted.

“There will be no screaming and hollering from the floor,” Brown said. “We’re going to stick strictly with the facts and give the factual information.”

Brown said the forum will be kept to a firm two-hour limit, but panelists will remain after 7 p.m. for specific questions asked from individual circumstances.