Publick Occurrences Forum Will Discuss Obamacare

How will Obamacare affect you?

This will be the topic of a nine-person panel discussion titled “Obamacare in R.I.: Help or Hindrance?” sponsored by The Providence Journal in partnership with Rhode Island College and Leadership Rhode Island, taking place Thursday at Rhode Island College.

The forum takes place just two days after new health exchange marketplaces opened in Rhode Island under the Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in March 2010.  Healthcare coverage purchased under the Affordable Care Act will go into effect in January 2014.

The health care reform is targeted to giving more Americans access to affordable health insurance and to reduce the growth of health care spending in the United States.

For many Rhode Island residents, there is, according to Mike Ritz, executive director of Leadership Rhode Island, a misunderstanding on what Obamacare is and how it will affect them.

“Of all the topics we cover at Leadership Rhode Island, healthcare in general is one of the most complex,” Ritz said. “It’s really important, as the state and national dialogue on Obamacare progresses, that people get to the bottom of what the healthcare changes are and dispel the myths and misleading information that’s out there.”

The Publick Occurrences forum will seek to help the Rhode Island community to understand the Obamacare health care changes. Panelists will provide an overview of what Obamacare means for Rhode Island residents, how health insurance will change here and how residents will see those changes on a personal level.

Panelists will include Christine C. Ferguson, director of HealthSource RI, the state’s new health insurance exchange; Lt. Gov. Elizabeth H. Roberts; Peter Andruszkiewicz, president and CEO of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island; and Dr. Timothy J. Babineau, president and CEO of the Lifespan hospital group.

The discussion also will include commentary from Amy Gallagher, vice president for major accounts at the Cornerstone Group; Dr. Francisco Trilla, chief medical officer of Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island; Donald Nokes, president of the R.I. Business Group on Health; Dr. Nick Tsiongas, founder of HealthRIght; and Jose Garcia, a member of the board of the Blackstone Valley Merchants Association.

The forum will include the opportunity for attendees to question panelists.

The forum takes place from 6- 8 p.m. at the college’s Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts. Attendees are asked to arrive by 5:45 p.m. Attendance is free but registration is required. For more information and to register, visit