If you were walking around Market Square Thursday afternoon, there's a chance you were approached by Sandra O'Connor.
Not the former Supreme Court jurist (though she gets that question a lot), the Jamaica Hospital emergency room nurse from Queens, New York. She says many of the patients she sees are uninsured and "they use [the ER] like a doctor's office." O'Connor thinks the Affordable Care Act will change that, by increasing the numbers of people who are insured and get preventative care.
Along with several hundred other nurses clad in purple and armed with handouts about the ACA, members of the Service Employees International Union took to the streets and found out just how little the average Pittsburgher knows about the new healthcare law.
"They don't understand that if they have a pre-existing condition, they'll be covered," says nurse Lynnea Barnett, adding that politicization of the law has created lots of misinformation — including the misconception that "Obamacare" and the ACA are different pieces of legislation.
State Rep. Erin Molchany, city council Democratic nominee Dan Gilman and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald all echoed the need to inform the public on the new law.
"Social Security had glitches when it was introduced decades ago," Fitzgerald says. "We need to make sure we get the word out."
"It's the Affordable Care Act, not Obamacare," Gilman says.
Concerns about that distinction aren't inconsequential. A recent CNBC poll shows 30 percent of the public doesn't know what the ACA is compared with 12 percent when asked about "Obamacare."
But if it's any consolation, O'Connor says most people just ignored her or said they're already insured.
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