By Jen Kastner
MIDLAND- On Friday, Republican Congressman Mike Conaway sat down with several Odessa and Midland leaders and healthcare professionals who are up in arms with last week's Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, which was finally deemed to be constitutional.
Included in the Act is a mandate requiring everyone, including West Texans, to have health insurance by 2014. Those who remain uncooperative will face a penalty in the form of taxes.
Congressman Conaway said, "[There are] a lot of frustrations and a lot of unknowns and no small amount of anxiety for the overall future of our country if we're not able to correct this particular bill."
Dr. Javier Morales owns an optometry practice in Odessa and Andrews.
"It's going to put more businesses on tight schedules and it wouldn't surprise me if a lot of them close their doors," Morales said.
Morales believes adding the 49 million uninsured Americans into the healthcare system will only result in chaos.
Many of Friday's roundtable attendees believe the country simply doesn't have enough doctors for this massive change.
Attorney Chris McCormack with the Midland County Democratic Party says the discussion about not having enough doctors to fit into the system isn't a relevant point to be made. He says that with the way the free market works, when you have more of a demand, you'll in turn have more of a supply.
"Private industry and the government can do things to increase the numbers of doctors. The patients will be able to find appropriate care as long as the healthcare providers are paid a reasonable rate for it," McCormack said. "We'll likely see more medical support staff coming into play, such as physician assistants, nurses and so on."
For McCormack, this is a victory for both the bank accounts and the bodies of the American people.
"If you have more people with health insurance coverage, they will be incentivized to go in and get medical treatment and find a regular [primary care] physician, rather than get their care through the emergency room and the doctors will be able to get paid through that insurance company as opposed to having to write off their bills. The same is true for the hospitals."
However, Congressman Conaway disagrees. He is preparing to put up a fight.