Future of health care coverage remains a concern

    ON MARCH 21, 2010 President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and others applaud after Congress passed the Affordable Care Act. With the incoming Trump administration in January, its future is uncertain.

    During both the presidential primaries and the general election candidate Donald Trump promised if elected he would repeal the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Since its inception the program that requires Americans to have health insurance has survived challenges both in Congress and in the Supreme Court. The Republican controlled Congress has tried 60 times to repeal the health care legislation. There are currently several bills awaiting hearings that seek to do away with the program.

    In his criticism of the Affordable Health Care Act, then presidential candidate Trump said, “the American people have to suffer under the incredible economic burden of the Affordable Health Care Act-Obamacare. This legislation, passed by totally partisan votes in the House and Senate and signed into law by the most partisan President in American history, has tragically but predictably resulted in runaway costs, websites that don’t work, greater rationing of care, higher premiums, less competition and fewer choices,” said Trump.

    However, since winning the election Trump has moderated somewhat his opposition. Last week he stopped short of calling for the total repeal of the law saying that he supported some aspects. The two provisions he supports are: allowing coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, and allowing college students to remain on their parents’ plan until age 26.

    Representative Charlie Brown, the ranking member of the Indiana General Assembly Health Committee says that if Trump follows through with plans to do away with the Affordable Health Care Act it would have a devastating impact on many who are currently covered who would then be without health care coverage. “That would mean that over 11 million people are left without health insurance and that can have a devastating impact around the country and particularly in Indiana” said Brown.

    Brown doesn’t think that with the stroke of a pen Trump could automatically get rid of the program. However, he acknowledges that with Republicans controlling the White House and both houses of Congress there will be attempts to remove certain parts of the law over a period of time. “I think they are going to find that they are won’t be able to come in and totally dismantle Obamacare because they are going to find that there are number of things contained in the bill that have a great deal of support,” said Brown.

    Brown said that Trump’s support of modifying the existing law that prohibits the sale of health insurance across state lines would not work. “It wouldn’t work because states have different regulations in providing coverage, and where one state may offer certain coverage for one condition, another state may make the cost of coverage more expensive,” Brown said.

    City of Gary Health Commissioner Roland Walker believes that the law will not be repealed and says that Trump’s recent comments are an indication that nothing in the law will be changed. He noted that the president-elect’s willingness to keep certain aspects of the program is an indication that the program will remain intact.

    “I don’t see things changing because much of the program tends to remain popular with the public,” said Walker. “If there are any changes it will be to improve the program in certain areas and that is something that is happening even before the president–elect takes office. Right now the only thing I see that may happen is that if some of the changes that Trump puts in place, those changes might cause a name change from Obamacare to Trumpcare. Because as we know, he is very good at branding.”

    Walker says that in the early days of open enrollment this year, the number of people signing up for affordable health care increased. He believes the increased interest was due to the uncertainty of the program immediately after its inception.

    Nationally, during the first week of enrollment this year, it is reported that one million people signed up for affordable health care. It is predicted that the number will increase by the end of enrollment.

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