BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — The battle over health care seems to be leaving many people in the dark, and Binghamton University is doing what it can to shed some light on the issue.
The 14th Annual Health Care Symposium invited professors, health care providers and insurance agencies to campus to discuss the Affordable Care Act's future.
"The health reform debate that's been going on for several years affects the lives of millions of people, and we're really at a crucial point both at the federal level and state level to figure out we're going to be doing next," said Michael Gusmano, Rutgers School of Public Health associate professor.
One panel member says there's a lot of white noise coming from the president and congress.
"People think the Affordable Care Act has already been repealed or there's no reason for them to get coverage anymore," said Peter Newell, United Hospital Fund Health Insurance project director.
What is true is that federal officials have cut funding that assisted consumers with insurance plans and for advertisements. They also shortened the 2018 enrollment period to December 15 for the 36 states on the federal exchange.
"Thankfully in New York, because of our state's commitment to the Affordable Care Act, we're one of the handful of states that has our own state exchange. It's up and running. It's enrolling people right now," Newell said.
New York is one of 14 states to have a state health insurance marketplace, giving residents the opportunity to enroll by January 31.
Experts also spoke about another important issue — opioid addiction and the lack of federal funding for treatment.
"It's crucially important, not only for people suffering with opioid addiction, but anyone really dealing with a chronic illness, for example, a behavioral health issue, a drug addiction. Having access to appropriate care could be the difference between life or death," Gusmano said.
The panel says there needs to be clarity and certainty to improve health care in New York State. Then, they can resume the work that's been put on hold this past year.