Future of Affordable Care Act now in Donald Trump’s hands

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KNOXVILLE (AP/WATE) – Donald Trump’s presidency promises to bring change with a number of new policies and updates. One the president-elect has long spoken about is repealing the Affordable Care Act, but many worry how those changes would impact people who rely on it for their health care.

Experts say while a repeal seems likely, it would take Congress months. A replacement could take even longer and would likely retain some of its features. Trump told The Wall Street Journal on Friday he was interested in keeping portions of the law, known to many as “Obamacare,” that guarantee coverage to those with pre-existing conditions and allow parents to keep their children on their health coverage until the age of 26.

As many as 30 million people could be affected by a repeal. Most directly hit would be some 10 million who 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.

“The Health Care Act is 2,000 pages long. It stretches its tentacles deep into the federal government. It would almost be virtually impossible by the stroke of a pen on January 21 to do away with that law,” said WATE 6 On Your Side Health Care Analyst Craig Griffith.

Hannah Gillet enrolled in coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Hannah Gillet enrolled in coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Not every job offers health insurance and Knoxville waitress Hannah Gillett wasn’t willing to go without.

“If I start dying, I need to figure out a way to make sure I’m not spending millions of dollars,” she said.

Gillett enrolled in coverage under the Affordable Care Act. She says the process was easy.

“Anytime I did have to deal with the actual marketplace, I talked to a real person,” she said.

Repealing the Affordable Health Care Act would not be a simple process. Senate Republicans don’t have a 60 vote supermajority, so they would have to use special budget-related procedures that allow a simple majority. That still means Congress has to pass a budget first, which could take months. It would also leave in place parts of the act that don’t involve the budget.

Congress might also delay the effective date of a repeal law to allow them time to pass a replacement.

Gillett says whatever happens will help everyone.

“If he does repeal it, and if he does that’s okay, I just hope he replaces it with something that benefits everyone and not just a certain group of people.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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