Participants visit informational booths after the forum. Photo by Jonathan Olivares

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As we all know, healthcare coverage can be very expensive. Beginning October 1st,. however, the new healthcare law called the Affordable Care Act will give millions of Americans the opportunity to apply for a health plan if they don’t have one currently.

With so many questions surrounding this new law, Boyle Heights residents took advantage of an opportunity to learn how the Affordable Care Act affects them and filled up the Boyle Heights Technology Center this past Saturday for a special forum hosted by Boyle Heights Beat.

Health reform, also known as Obamacare, will benefit many low-income families by making healthcare coverage more affordable. Under the new law, individuals without a health insurance plan can shop around and purchase one that best fits them.

Health and law industry professionals spoke at the forum to explain the new legislation and answer any questions audience members had.

Rafael Zuniga, 52, said he was happy he attended the forum and that he’s excited about the prospects of the ACA. “I think it is something very good, something very positive. It is a big change but something very important; especially for us in Latino communities who have never had insurance.”

Not everyone will benefit from the ACA. Maria Duran, 55, is unhappy with her MediCal coverage and hoped to apply for new coverage. “Unfortunately, because of my income, I don’t think I will be able to afford any of the [other] health plans.” Still, Duran sees great things happening under the ACA. “It is clear that there will be a lot of benefits for those who will be eligible to have insurance for the first time. Now there will be no excuse if you are sick and you don’t go see a doctor.”

One of the forum speakers, Dr. Gregory M. Roybal, medical director of the Roybal Comprehensive Health Center in East L.A., expects that health care reforms will take some getting-used to. When asked if he expects medical clinics to be ready for all the new patients taking advantage of the ACA, Dr. Roybal said, “I think people will be a little frustrated about it at first, but they just need to be patient because it’s going to take about a year or so for it to stabilize. ”

Youchen Wang, an attorney with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles also spoke at the event, providing an overview of the new law and outlining that the ACA does not apply to the undocumented.

“Programs that are currently funded for the undocumented have a chance of being defunded or cut,” said Wang, explaining that private donors may think everyone will be covered under the ACA and could transfer resources elsewhere.

“We’re going to have to see how this plays out,” added Wang.

Representatives from various community organizations such as Maternal and Child Health Access, LA Care, Vision y Compromiso, and Clinica Romero were on hand to personally answer questions from the forum attendees.

See our coverage here for more information on the Affordable Care Act.

Emily Valdez, David Galindo, Jackie Ramirez, Dulce Morales, and Clarrissa Diaz contributed to this report.

Video produced by Kim Daniels

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Boyle Heights Beat

Boyle Heights Beat is a bilingual community newspaper produced by its youth "por y para la comunidad". The newspaper and its sister website serve an immigrant neighborhood in East Los Angeles of just under...

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