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Future of health care to be determined in upcoming election

With Election Day less than one week away, health care is one of the top issues facing voters in Central New York and beyond.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – With Election Day less than one week away, health care is one of the top issues facing voters in Central New York and beyond.

This election will define health care in this country – either by rolling out the Affordable Care Act, which has been popularly called "Obamacare," or by repealing it.

Right now, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is being slowly rolled out. Supporters say that if everyone has insurance, there will be more preventative care - like primary doctor visits. So there will be fewer "big checks" for people to write when they're sick. For the insurance to work, everyone would need to pay for coverage to keep costs low across the board.

Those who want to repeal the act say they should have the right to choose if they want to pay coverage or not.

“That is the fundamental dilemma - the good of the whole versus the freedom of the individual. I think that's the great conflict that we see here,” said Dr. David Duggan, interim dean of medicine at Upstate University Hospital.

Parts of the health care bill that most people agree with have already been rolled out. What was known as the Medicare prescription drug “doughnut hole” has been fixed. And children can now stay on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26 years old.

The provisions scheduled to roll out over the next two years are the elements that supporters and opponents of the act fundamentally disagree on.

If the act is not repealed, more people will be eligible for Medicaid by 2014, people and businesses with more than 50 employees will be required to buy insurance or pay a penalty, and there will be new rules for insurance companies.

“They will no longer be able to eliminate people who are high risk from buying policies, they will no longer be able to cap awards, and I think they're very worried about losing business with the healthcare exchanges that are going to be set up,” Duggan said.

Which is why many health insurance companies have been lobbying for the repeal of this health care act – and those companies have been supporting candidates like Republican Ann Marie Buerkle.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Buerkle has raised $71,000 from groups in the health sector, which is two and a half times the number of contributions Democrat Dan Maffei has received from similar organizations.

Buerkle promises to continue voting to repeal the health care act, and rebuild a new system.

Maffei says he would keep the act in place, and vote for minor changes.

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