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Local doctors say Obamacare has problems, can be salvaged

One big thing on the minds of lawmakers with Congress back in session is the Affordable Care Act. Many are divided on what to do with the health care program.

Local doctors are divided too. They say Obamacare is a mixed bag. There are some serious issues that definitely need addressing, but some aspects have helped countless patients.

"I think it's very important that patients have access to health care," says Dr. Natali Balog, who practices at the South Bend Clinic. "I think it's something that, as Americans, we should protect each other and have that opportunity."

Balog says she's already seen plenty of patients take advantage of one specific perk of ACA.

"The lack of the pre-existing [conditions] clause has allowed patients with inflammatory arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, like psoriatic arthritis, to access medical care and in many cases have the chance for getting medications," she says.

Doctor's at the South Bend Clinic had lots of great things to say about ACA, including policies that allow young people to stay on their parents' insurance until they're 26. They say more and more people are going to the doctor and that's good news.

"Beyond that, there are lots of problems with it too," says Dr. Brent Mohr.

Mohr says those problems include the policy that forces people to have health coverage or face a fine. He also dislikes the policy that forces doctors to move to electronic records. Mohr says the method is expensive and time consuming.

"At the end of the day there's been no documented evidence that electronic records have improved health care on an individual basis at all," says Mohr.

But, the biggest issue may be the cost. Even though the word "affordable" is in the name, some plans have deductibles as high as $10,000.

"Some may be affordable but very minimalistic in their coverage and particularly of medicines that are expensive," Balog adds.

Although some lawmakers would completely scrap ACA and come up with a new plan, Dr. Mohr says that's not neccessary.

"I think they have to sit down, take it piecemeal, figure out what's working [and] what's not," he says.

When it does come time to make that change, Dr. Balog says members of congress should look to the professionals for advice. She feels that right now, the plan is more like a business policy than a health care program.

"I don't think physicians have been asked enough how we can manage care and how we can manage the cost," Balog says. "We've been taken out of the equation in many instances."

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