Pres­i­dent-elect Trump means angst for ‘Oba­macare’ con­sumers

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH -

WASH­ING­TON: Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion ush­ers in a time of high anx­i­ety for peo­ple with health in­sur­ance un­der Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s law, which ex­panded cov­er­age to mil­lions but has strug­gled to find wide­spread pub­lic ac­cep­tance.

While re­peal now seems likely, that may take Congress months. A re­place­ment for the 2010 health care law could take even longer, and may re­tain some of its fea­tures.

Repub­li­cans are say­ing they want to pro­tect peo­ple who now are cov­ered from los­ing health care in the shift. While Congress labors, look for the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to use its reg­u­la­tory pow­ers to make changes.

Vot­ers “don’t want Wash­ing­ton to fix Oba­macare, they want to make health care af­ford­able,” said House Ways and Means Chair­man Kevin Brady, R-Texas, whose com­mit­tee over­sees much of health care. “I’m con­fi­dent we will have more truly af­ford­able health care for just as many Amer­i­cans.”

“It’s our goal to dis­man­tle Oba­macare and ac­tu­ally fo­cus on low­er­ing the cost of cov­er­age for peo­ple,” said Sen. John Bar­rasso, R-Wyo., a mem­ber of the Repub­li­can lead­er­ship. “It’s a com­mit­ment on be­half of Congress and the pres­i­dent-elect to get this done.”

The rhetoric may sound fa­mil­iar, but the cir­cum­stances couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent. Up un­til now, re­peated Repub­li­can at­tempts to re­peal the Af­ford­able Care Act have been prac­tice runs. This will be real, and so will the con­se­quences.

Trump will have a four-year term in the White House, but Congress faces the vot­ers again in two years. With HealthCare.gov’s sign-up sea­son un­der­way, there’s lit­tle chance the pro­gram will come to a crash­ing halt. Still, that’s not very re­as­sur­ing for peo­ple like Lodiza LePore of Ben­ning­ton, Ver­mont, a pho­tog­ra­pher who pays about $80 a month for her pol­icy.

The cov­er­age is skimpy, she says, but it’s there if she has a health problem. “I think they are just go­ing to de­stroy ev­ery­thing Obama has done, and that’s go­ing to leave a lot of peo­ple with no health care,” said LePore.

“It’s go­ing to turn this coun­try into a Third World coun­try.” As many as 30 mil­lion peo­ple could be af­fected. Most di­rectly hit would be some 10 mil­lion who like LePore have pri­vate cov­er­age through the law’s sub­si­dized markets, and about 9 mil­lion cov­ered un­der its Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion. An­other 5 mil­lion to 9 mil­lion peo­ple who buy in­di­vid­ual poli­cies out­side the health law markets are ex­posed to its ups and downs.

Repub­li­cans don’t want to make mil­lions unin­sured, said Mike Leav­itt, Health and Hu­man Ser­vices sec­re­tary for for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush. “There is a widely held as­pi­ra­tion that peo­ple have health in­sur­ance, and that the so­lu­tion isn’t sim­ply to say that it’s OK if some peo­ple don’t,” he said.

Can they de­liver? There’s no final GOP plan and no de­ci­sions have been made. But here’s a look at some of the ma­jor pieces in a com­plex puz­zle: — AP

WASH­ING­TON: In this Oct. 24, 2016 file photo, the HealthCare.gov 2017 web site home page is seen on a lap­top.—AP

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