The repeal of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, would cause a flood of low-income people to lose health coverage if it isn't replaced with something comparable.
That could leave the state facing a hefty tab if state legislators decide to replace the federal money that paid for the expansion of
"It's going be to like
It was one of 14 states to create its own online insurance exchange, where people without employer-provided health care can shop for a plan. State lawmakers also chose to take huge amounts of money from the federal government by opting for Obamacare's expansion of the
About 600,000 Washingtonians have gained coverage because of the
The cost of that expansion now is paid for entirely by the federal government, according to the authority. The state is due to pick up some of the bill beginning next year. By 2020, the state is expected to cover 10 percent of the cost.
State officials couldn't say how much money is at stake if Obamacare is repealed. On Monday, the health authority was still analyzing exactly how much money the federal government pays to cover those 600,000 people who joined
Whatever the number, it's expected to be big.
Some of the people who lose health care coverage would end up in the clinics of last resort: hospital emergency rooms. Loss of federal money for
After Obamacare was implemented, charity care costs dropped for the first time since the state began collecting data on it in 1989. Charity care spending went from
Rising charity care costs could put "a huge strain" on some hospitals, said
In other words, there may not be enough support in
Cody said the repeal of Obamacare might be done incrementally rather than dropping huge problems on the Legislature in the immediate future.
"Am I nervous? Yes. Am I panicked? No, not yet," she said.
Some predict that change could come faster.
"I fully expect some kind of Obamacare repeal or replacement enacted in January or February," said state Rep.
What a replacement of
Because no official Republican proposal exists yet, it's tough to speculate if those block grants would be enough to allow health coverage equivalent to that under Obamacare, according to Clunies-Ross.
Technically, some parts of Obamacare could survive the federal law's reversal.
But without the federal subsidies that some users of the exchange get to buy health insurance, fewer people could afford to use the exchange.
Ericksen said Trump will "fundamentally restructure" the health care system in ways that will help people get affordable insurance. He cited two of Trump's main proposals to lower the cost of insurance -- allowing people to buy health insurance across state lines and making health savings accounts more available.
Wilcox said a
"I don't know what the answer is at this point," he said. "I'm looking for some leadership from the
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