Southern Californians react to passage of health care reform

President Barack Obama signs the Affordable Health Care for America Act during a ceremony with fellow Democrats in the East Room of the White House March 23, 2010.
President Barack Obama signs the Affordable Health Care for America Act during a ceremony with fellow Democrats in the East Room of the White House March 23, 2010.
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Southern Californians are reacting to Tuesday's signing of a massive health care reform bill by President Obama.

Outside Kaiser Permanente’s Hollywood medical complex, confusion reigned over the complex health care bill.

Craig Chapman of Glendale accompanied his mother to a check-up appointment. He’s on his wife’s health care plan.

“You know, my wife works for a major Fortune 500 company so we have fairly good health care. Now are we going to get taxed on that?"

Chapman, 51, likes the idea of covering more people with health insurance, but he worries about the costs the Congressional Budget Office projects.

"To just go ahead and pass something so large is a little alarming.”

Ed Zschoche of Huntington Beach said he was less worried about the eventual costs.

He does expect fee increases for medical services like the ones he uses through the Kaiser health maintenance system.

"I feel that it may be fair for me to pay for some people that don’t have an advantage that I have," he said.

Zschoche and Norma Torre stopped to talk as patients and nurses and doctors whizzed in and out of the Kaiser facility. Torre’s a school teacher who said she likes the way the health care reform bill will extend coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans.

“Everybody should get services whether they can afford it or not," she said.

Like many who spoke, Lois Richard of Silver Lake could scarcely describe more than the barest of details about the legislation. She said she supports it because she wants more people to have medical insurance.

But that doesn’t keep her from worrying.

“The only thing that concerns me is that I keep hearing this thing about that they might be cutting back on certain Medicare," she said. "And next year I’ll be going on Medicare."

James Hernandez works as a technician at Kaiser.

"Something needed to be done about health care in America," he said. "I’m not sure it’s exactly this. But at least they’re trying to take the right step in the right direction.”

Inside the hospital, health care professionals were abuzz about the plan, said Dr. Joseph Chen, a neurological surgeon.

“We don’t know really what to make of it."

Chen said a lot of people have strong opinions one way or another, "but not very much in the way of substantive factual debate about it. I guess much like the way it’s been on Capitol Hill.”

That partisan tone echoed on the sidewalk outside Kaiser too.

“What they did wasn’t health care reform. It was securing future elections for the Democratic Party for years and years and years to come," John Hird of Los Feliz said. “It’s going to cost us a lot of money."

But many, including Craig Chapman, expressed frustration with the growing partisanship that surrounded the health care reform debate.

“Both sides have valid points," he said. "I’d like to see more bipartisanship going on.”

Political observers say that’s unlikely, as politicians seek the most political gain from health care reform before November's mid-term elections.