The 63-year-old retired pipe-fitter and his wife stand to lose their health care insurance under the administration of Republican President-elect
"Well it has been working good. ... Otherwise we would have nothing," Torres said of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, through which he receives government subsidies to help pay insurance premiums.
Without that assistance, he said, "We'd have no money to eat, to pay bills."
Trump made the ACA a focal point of his campaign in the final days of the election, which coincided with news of a sharp spike in premiums during the fourth open enrollment period under the law. Additionally, the number of plans available in ACA marketplaces contracted sharply as carriers such as
Trump called the law a "total disaster," promising to "repeal and replace" it. After his inauguration in January, he will have the opportunity to make good on his word -- with the help of fellow
"We can't pull the rug out from under people all at once," Toomey said. "We can't leave people stranded in some way, so there has to be a transition. But it needs to be a transition that goes into effect as quickly as it can and leads us to a marketplace for health insurance that's driven by consumers and not bureaucrats."
"I believe it would be wise to have a replacement plan in place" before repealing the law, he said. "As we try to make health care better, we want to make sure we don't cause the kind of disruption that occurred several years ago [under the ACA], so we have to be very careful and deliberate in how we move."
The ACA prohibited insurance companies from turning away customers because of pre-existing health conditions, as was common practice previously.
By the end of the 2016 enrollment period, which closed in February, nearly 13 million consumers nationwide signed up for insurance through either the federal or state-based exchanges. Millions of others have been covered through an ACA-sponsored
Additionally, many young adults have been able to remain on their parents' insurance, since the law also raised the age limit for parental coverage to 26. All told, the
Dent said the quantity of people covered is only one part of the equation; the other part is the quality of the coverage.
"Yes, there are more people covered," he said, "but many of these 20 million people do not have access to the physicians and hospitals they would like."
Friday, reports indicated Trump was considering keeping aspects of Obamacare, including the prohibition on denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and the extended age for children to remain on their parents' insurance, but did not indicate how he would do so.
The Republican approach on health care is still in the formative stage. Toomey said it is likely to look much different from the current law, cautioning not to expect "a Republican 2,000-page bill that has the government take over health care in a different way."
He said his goal will be to focus on changes that would increase competition and give individuals more control over their insurance plans.
Dent said he supports Trump's call to permit insurance companies to do business across state lines, and that he'd like to see medical liability reform.
"Today I can't say I have the answers," he said. "Is it repeal or replace, or just a major overhaul? These are the kinds of discussions that will have to take place."
In the run-up to the election, Trump said he would call on
"We don't know how this is going to play out," said
She is among the ACA supporters who still are calling for people in need of insurance to enroll in a plan though Healthcare.gov.
"It's better to have coverage in the short term than to not have it at all. ... Navigators are still open for business," she said.
"I wouldn't discourage anyone from applying," she said. "You have to take advantage of it while you still have it, while the opportunity exists."
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