On Tuesday in Pineville, West Virginians for Affordable Health Care (WVAHC) kicks off a series of meetings to explain to the citizenry the ins and outs of 2010’s federal health care legislation.

Gibbs Kinderman will speak on behalf of WVAHC at the meeting, with presentations in Beckley, Oak Hill, and Summers County to follow.

Kinderman says the goal of the session is to give people basic, factual information about what the act will mean for them.

“It’s very complex. It’s 2,000 pages long,” he says. “There’s a lot of confusion about what it really says, and a lot of sensationalistic statements about it.”

Rather than debate the merits of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Kinderman will simply explain how it works.

“It’s not a matter of selling it,” he says. “It’s a matter of letting people know what it really says.”

While some provisions went into effect last year, in 2014 other major components of the act that affect children, 18-to-24-year-olds, and low-income individuals will be implemented.

Kinderman says that currently two groups concern him the most.

“First are people 50 years and up who lost their jobs, because in 90 percent of cases they won’t get another one, and very few are eligible for any kind of coverage because they don’t have children,” he says.

“The other group is young families who don’t have good health insurance through work, or none at all. Those young families are going to be able to get coverage starting in 2014.”

Kinderman, a resident of Pocahontas County, became interested in health care 44 years ago when he helped create a neighborhood health center in Raleigh County, designed as a precursor to national health insurance.

“As a young guy, 24 years old, I was really concerned about people’s access to health care,” he says. “That program brought health care to a lot of people.”

While grants lasted, the Mountaineer Family Health Plan was free to those who qualified based on income. Even at its maximum price, the program cost only $60 per month for a family of four.

Kinderman says he has watched as multiple generations of politicians struggled to provide affordable health care to the American people, before the 2010 act finally sealed the deal.

“It’s kind of cool to be as old as I am and this thing I’ve thought was important my whole adult life became reality, and I get to help explain it to people,” he says. “It’s been a real treat.”

WVACH was formed in 2006 by people across the state who were interested in getting better access to health care, says Kinderman. When the Affordable Care Act passed, the group received a grant from the Claude Benedum Foundation to offer informational sessions to citizens.

The first session is Tuesday at noon in Pineville, at the Department of Health and Human Resources building, hosted by the Family Resource Network. Call Kathy Brunty at 304-923-4280 for more information.

Then Jan. 19, Kinderman visits the Raleigh County Family Resource Network at 11 a.m. for another public forum in Beckley. The event is at the Raleigh County Commission on Aging, 1614 S. Kanawha St.

The Fayette County Family Resource Network will host a meeting Jan. 26 at 1400 Virginia St. in Oak Hill. A forum in Summers County will take place in February.

— E-mail: cmoore@register-herald.com


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