Affordable Care Act’s effects on health costs still unclear (Roanoke Business)

After 33 years serving uninsured patients in Christiansburg, the Free Clinic of the New River Valley changed its name and business model in January.

The facility is now known as the Community Health Center of the New River Valley and is one of about 1,200 community health centers across the U.S., including New Horizons Healthcare in Roanoke and the Tri-Area Community Health Center in Ferrum.

CEO Michelle Brauns says the change came about as a direct result of the Affordable Care Act—the health-care reform law passed by Congress in 2010. The law, intended to provide better, more affordable health coverage, mandates that, with a few exceptions, every American be covered by health insurance or pay a penalty that will increase each year. Over time, it should dramatically decrease the number of uninsured Americans—dramatically affecting a clinic whose mission was to serve the uninsured. Faced with an uncertain future, the free clinic chose a different route.

My story looks not just at the former NRV free clinic, but also the bigger picture of what may or may not happen with long-term costs as a result of the health care reform law. Read the full story in the November issue of Roanoke Business.

Roanoke Congressman Bob Goodlatte’s growing influence on Capitol Hill (Roanoker)

The fact that Virginia 6th District Congressman Bob Goodlatte is such a familiar face in Roanoke makes his regular appearances seem routine. Yet he serves as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee — a hugely powerful body that takes up legislation ranging from intellectual property and copyright law to immigration reform.

During a three-week stretch this summer, Goodlatte visited the Rio Grande section of the U.S.-Mexico border to obtain more information about the large number of children and teenagers, mostly from Central America, who have massed there. He appeared a few days later on Fox News to discuss the issue on “Lou Dobbs Tonight.” Soon after, the House of Representatives passed a bill sponsored by Goodlatte and that would permanently ban state taxes on broadband Internet access.

“I think he works very hard,” says Newt Gingrich, who took over as Speaker of the House in 1995, just after Goodlatte had completed his first term, and held that position until 1999. “He is very much a people person. He does his homework in a quiet methodical way. I believe he has a very substantial influence in the House on some key issues. People know he is a commonsense conservative who studies the facts, who knows everybody and whose basic approach is to try to bring everyone together to get to a solution.”

Read my profile of Goodlatte online at the Roanoker, or pick up the issue, now on newstands.

One note of disclosure: Reporters don’t write headlines, so I didn’t come up with the “Clark Kent” theme. I do think the David Suetterlein quote from which it was drawn, however, is one of the best lines I’ve heard about Goodlatte.