Local residents attend health care town hall in Altoona

ALTOONA — In 2017, health insurance marketplace rates went up by an average of 32.5 percent statewide.

That’s why many people from the group “Put People First” attended a town hall Monday night at the Altoona public library.

It’s a group of people that believes health care is a human right and they hope one day there will be a system with health care for all.

Dawn Kinsey is a part of the group and traveled from Johnstown.

“People come here. They get to tell their health insurance stories,” Kinsey said. “The commissioner can hear that and determine if we’re on the right path because hopefully we are doing the best we can.”

The town hall is one of several across the state hosted by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department.

This town hall is for Rating Area 5, which includes Jefferson, Clearfield, Cambria, Blair,

Somerset, Bedford and Huntingdon counties.

Officials are helping to educate people and answer questions about proposed health insurance rate increases.

Many said they attended to better understand the system.

“I’m a retired nurse and there’s so much I just don’t understand,” said Altoona resident Sandra Dangler. “And so the more we can talk to people, the more we can learn about things, the better we can take care of our country and take care of our people.”

Officials said they have five meetings scheduled throughout the state and hope to visit all nine rating areas in Pennsylvania through September.

They said they are trying to be open and transparent about their process.

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