President-elect Trump means angst for ‘Obamacare’ consumers
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