Over 530K Tennesseans wait to see what Congress does on Affordable Care Act

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WASHINGTON D.C. (WATE/WKRN) – Senator Mike Enzi, Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee introduced a resolution Tuesday to repeal Affordable Care Act.

The resolution includes reconciliation instructions so that the repeal legislation can move through a fast-track process and pass with only a simple majority in the Senate and House. It also includes a plan to phase out the provisions over several years, giving lawmakers time to craft their replacement plan.

“Americans face skyrocketing premiums and soaring deductibles,” said Chairman Enzi. “Insurers are withdrawing from markets across the country, leaving many families with fewer choices and less access to care than they had before – the opposite of what the law promised. Today, we take the first steps to repair the nation’s broken health care system, removing Washington from the equation and putting control back where it belongs: with patients, their families and their doctors.”

Michele Johnson, Executive Director of the Tennessee Justice Center, says 536,000 Tennesseans have benefited from Obamacare, either by coverage or certain conditions of the act such as the removal of pre-existing conditions as a reason to deny health insurance coverage.

“There are plenty of problems with the Affordable Care Act, but the question [for Washington] is do you drive the car off a cliff because it’s out of gas, or do you fix it?” said Johnson. “A vast majority of Americans feel very strongly about eight of the nine major provisions of the ACA.”

For years, Republicans have promised a repeal and replacement of Obamacare. Now, with control of Capitol Hill and the White House for the first time since 2006, they must navigate the dismantling of Obama’s signature health care law without disrupting coverage for millions of Americans.

While Trump and some Republican leaders agree on keeping several basic elements of Obamacare – such as pre-existing coverage and allowing children to stay on their parents’ health care until they turn 26 – the party has not coalesced around a single GOP blueprint to replace the law. For their part, Democrats are vowing to fight any major changes and will discuss defending the law with Obama on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

What that might look like remains the big question so many Tennesseans are waiting to see.

Incoming Tennessee House Majority Leader Glen Casada does see a path forward for Congressional leaders. He said people have to some personal responsibility and pay something for their healthcare.

“It can’t be free,” said Casada. “If it’s free you abuse it, and you drive up the cost. Everyone has to pay something.”

John Hodges, who works as an independent moving contractor in Tennessee, said he needs health care, but has gone without it. He’s pinning his hopes on President-elect Trump and Congressional action.

“I tried checking out Obamacare and it was out the roof – $680 a month,” Hodges said. “I would like to see Obamacare taken away with something that’s affordable, decent and I could support myself with.”

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