ALTOONA, BLAIR COUNTY - How will the new health care program affect the care you receive? Doctors and hospitals are responsible for helping the people who come to them for care. That means an extra 32 million patients could walk through the doors since they'll be getting coverage.
They agree that there are some good aspects to this plan. Those include that people can't be denied because of pre-existing conditions, but they have some concerns; ones they say could mean more headaches for doctors, hospitals and patients.
Dr. Zane Gates said the problems with this new health care law start with the name.
"We're not reforming health care, we're getting people insurance," Dr. Gates said.
He said those two issues have totally different meanings.
"An insurance card gives you availability for payment, it doesn't mean that you have to have access to care. Fifty percent of the nation's doctors don't accept medical assistance and that number continues to rise," Dr. Gates said.
He's not the only one who believes doctors are fed up with government medical assistance.
"I've been hearing that kind of response from the physician community this week, saying 'well, you know what I won't take Medicaid or Medicare anymore if this is another poorly run government program, I won't take it, I'll just take commercial insurance as long as I can and see how it goes,'" President and CEO of Nason Hospital Garrett Hoover said.
If doctors decide to deny people with government assisted health insurance, those patients will have to go to emergency rooms. On average folks already wait close to four hours to be seen in an ER. That wait time could get longer.
"There is definitely not enough doctors to cover these folks because as I say it once and I'll say it before, insurance and care are two different things," Dr. Gates said.
Gates said the other issue is that people won't be able to afford this new health coverage. He's basing his findings on Massachusetts. The state already provides cheaper coverage to residents. On average those policies cost between $84 and $144 a month, plus the deductibles are high.
"Anytime a patient comes in and needs sick care, not preventative care, they're going to have an awful lot of out of pocket expense," Dr. Gates said.
To pay for this health care reform, there are plans in motion to cut Medicaid and Medicare funding from hospitals. Hoover said community hospitals like Nason will take a big hit.
"Community hospitals and particularly smaller community hospitals I think are really at risk as the reductions take place in order to help subsidize the cost of this program," Hoover said.
Dr. Gates said physicians will see lower payments from the government. He said that's the only way the government can afford the coverage they're planning to provide.