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Crossroads residents listen in, ask questions on health care reform law

By JR Ortega
Sept. 27, 2010 at 4:27 a.m.

Rose and Marcus Smith of Port O'Connor listen closely as Anne Dunkelberg, the associate director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, explains how the new health care reform bill that was signed earlier this year will affect Texans. "It was great, I feel more informed, it was well worth it," Rose said of the presentation.

WHO IS ANNE DUNKELBERG?

One of the state's leading experts in policy and budget issues relating to health care access.

In 2007, she was named Consumer Advocate of the Year by Families USA in Washington, D.C.

She served as program director for Acute Care in the Texas Medicaid Director's Office and spent six years with the Texas Research League, where she authored numerous reports on Texas health and human services issues and tracked state health and human services budget issues.

She earned dual degrees from The University of Texas at Austin - a Bachelor of Arts in 1979 and a Master of Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs in 1988.

Ngoc Duran typically provides health care to patients, but Monday evening - it was personal.

The 34-year-old Citizens Medical Center registered nurse underlined and flipped through a stack of health care information packets at the Health Reform 101: Basics for Texas presentation at the University of Houston-Victoria.

"It affects our community at large," said Duran, who has two children. "If we seek appropriate health care, we need to see what the reform is."

About 100 people attended the presentation with questions on a variety of issues, including Medicare.

Anne Dunkelberg, the associate director of Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin, was invited to speak on the issue by the Crossroads Progressive Women organization as well as other sponsors, said member Margery Loeb.

"We want to help clear up misconceptions," Loeb said.

Ruth Gerdes, of Victoria, entered the presentation with an open mind.

"It all boils down to survival," the 67-year-old said.

One of her biggest concerns was how Medicare and its supplemental insurance would be affected.

At the end of the presentation, her question wasn't necessarily answered, but a lot of information she learned was valuable, she said.

"This is chapter one of a very long book," she said laughing.

Dunkelberg tried to touch on several key points of the reform, such as Medicare, who and who wouldn't be uninsured and what takes effect now and in 2014.

So what do Texans need to know?

"We by no means have done a perfect job," Dunkelberg said about the United States' first attempt at health reform. "We're trying for the first time to really change the basic rules for the health insurance market place."

Dunkelberg has spoken at more than 30 locations across Texas and always wants to get one thing across - what the basic structure of the law is.

"There are lots and lots and lots of pieces to this law. There is going to have to be a lot more education than what I've talked about tonight," she said.

Iris Riske, who traveled from Yoakum just to hear the talk, agreed.

Though Riske does not know much about the health care reform, she wanted to get a better understanding of the topic, she said.

"I need to be informed," she said. "You better know. That's your job."

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