Mayor Whaley rallies support for Obamacare

Mayor Nan Whaley reassured Dayton-area residents with health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that the law is “still here” despite pressure from President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans who have promised to repeal and replace the law.

“As mayor, I share the responsibility for the health and well-being of our community, which includes ensuring access to comprehensive and affordable health care,” Whaley said during a press conference Wednesday at the Charles R. Drew Health Center in Dayton. “The ACA has improved the lives of many Ohioans, and it shouldn’t be tossed out without careful consideration of the effect.”

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President Trump and GOP lawmakers want to replace the health law, otherwise known as Obamacare, with new legislation, arguing that the law in its current form is unsustainable because of high deductibles, skyrocketing premium costs and a lack of participation by healthy individuals, leaving insurers with sicker customers.

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But the push to repeal and replace the law has slowed amid concerns that millions of people could end up losing their insurance coverage. President Trump said earlier this month that the process might take until next year to complete.

In Ohio, more than 900,000 Ohioans, or nearly 10 percent of state’s population, have health coverage under provisions of the ACA. That includes nearly 239,000 Ohioans who have signed up for private health plans sold through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace created by the ACA, and more than 70,000 who obtained coverage through the ACA’s expanded Medicaid eligibility requirements, which were adopted in Ohio by Gov. John Kasich.

Gregg Hopkins, executive director of Community Health Centers of Greater Dayton, which includes Drew, said many of the more than 16,000 patients the health centers saw last year would likely have avoided visiting a doctor altogether if they had not been covered under the Medicaid expansion.

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About 70 percent of the patients the health centers saw last year had coverage under Medicaid, compared to 45 percent before Medicaid was expanded in 2014, Hopkins said.

Before the ACA, “Our patients would avoid making visits to the centers because of cost, and even though we discount our services based on family size and income,” he said. “They would use the emergency rooms for their primary care services, which is an even higher cost for the health systems. The system was broken.”

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