On Monday, Feb. 20, local West Chester residents held a forum on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also called Obamacare.

Of the 100 or so attendants, nearly all were passionately vocal supporters of the bill. Only a few dissenters were not favorable of the bill, but still came to hear what was said.

The panel on this forum included Robert Field, a Drexel University professor of public health; Scott Lambert, an insurance executive; Harland Cooper, a former surgeon, and two West Chester residents who had experiences with making use of the ACA.

The professor and professionals voiced their support of the ACA through an academic and data-filled presentation, while the ACA users told their personal stories of how the bill helped them with their healthcare crises.

One woman lost her husband to cancer, but he was able to receive treatment that extended his life and reduced his pain thanks to the ACA.

Another woman spoke about her daughter, who grew up afflicted with several mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety, which caused her great difficulty in many aspects of life but was able to receive psychiatric care and now lives a perfectly healthy life.

The forum was moderated by Edie Berstler, who stated, “We are here to support the Affordable Care Act and encourage Congressman [Ryan] Costello to vote against repealing it.”

Absent from the forum to hear these arguments and stories was Costello, the representative from the 6th Congressional District.

The intent of the forum was to allow Costello’s constituents to hear about his plans regarding health policy and to voice questions and concerns about his voting intent.

However, Costello’s office never responded with any intent to appear at the forum.

Costello’s absence caused some additional discontent after recent controversy regarding members of Congress not taking any phone calls from their constituents while major federal action is being passed.

Despite Costello’s absence, the forum proceeded as an informative presentation of arguments supporting the ACA. Berstler noted that the questions and comments brought up at the forum would be passed along to Costello’s office in hopes that it may bring attention to the opinions of some of his constituents.

Of primary concern to the attendants were the specific issues of preexisting conditions and expansion of the insured population.

While many were also concerned by the lack of alternate plans proposed by the Republican Party to replace the ACA, the few that have been drafted severely cut coverage for more vulnerable populations and increase the burden on lower-income consumers of insurance.

The hosts filmed the entire forum, while several local news stations stopped by for coverage as well, so anyone interested in seeing additional footage of the event may keep posted to local news.

The hosts of the forum made a point to those who are interested in supporting the ACA to look up InsurePA.org or PennBPC.org to learn more about the issue or get involved with campaigns that support the bill.

Alexander Habbart is a second-year student majoring in economics, math and finance. He can be reached at AH855541@wcupa.edu.

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