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Obamacare repeal effort brings questions

President+Barack+Obama+talks+with+staff+at+Massachusetts+General+Hospital+in+Boston%2C+Massachusetts+on+Apr.+18%2C+2013.+It+is+still+unknown+if+the+new+replacement+plan+will+provide+coverage+for+pre-existing+medical+conditions.
Courtesy Pete Souza

President Barack Obama talks with staff at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts on Apr. 18, 2013. It is still unknown if the new replacement plan will provide coverage for pre-existing medical conditions.

As per Donald Trump and some Republicans’ goals, the Senate voted 51-48 to repeal the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare at 1:30 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 11. This got the ball rolling to begin drafting a replacement health care system to help the 20 million Americans who use ACA.

Main critics of Obamacare argued that its ever-growing premiums and expensive deductibles for the insurers still enrolling people through the act make it necessary to repeal.

Key parts of Obamacare such as the ability for children to stay on their parent’s plan until they are 26, will still be in effect,said Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers in a Jan. 10 press conference.

The replacement plan still has many unknowns.

“The new administration has talked about maintaining that, where the dependents can stay on under parent’s policy until they’re 26, and it looks like there won’t be [pre-existing conditions] as well, but they’re not hard facts yet,” said Lori Piper Insurance Program Coordinator for Campus Health.

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According to its website UA Campus Health “offers one major medical health insurance policy, which meets the Affordable Care Act requirements.” Requirements include same rates for services for men and women, no one can be arbitrarily dropped from their plan and no one can be denied health insurance due to a pre-existing condition as listed on the ACA web page.

There are 6,100 students on the Student Health Insurance Plan for this spring enrollment with one week left until the end of the spring open enrollment period.

“The student insurance is a platinum-level plan, even better than the platinum-level plans that the ACA provided,” Piper said.

Insurance-wise, Campus Health didn’t undergo too many changes with the implementation of the ACA.

“We only contract with insurances, we bill those insurances,” said Terri West, Campus Health administrative associate. “I think it’s been pretty much status quo. It hasn’t made any problem with access to care.”

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From personal experience, West saw what happened when her children turned 18 before Obamacare was implemented. Before they could be back on insurance through a university, they had to deal with big problems uninsured.

“I’m just thinking for people who don’t have to go through what we had to go through as a family,” West said.

Stephen Gilliland, executive director for Center Management Innovations in Health Care at the university, said right now the stocks of insurance companies are in a state of complete uncertainty, which the market hates. He expects prices to do bad things until everything is resolved.

As Gilliland explained, right now prescription drug companies can set whatever price they want and consumers can decide if they want to spend the money to buy them.

“But you can’t rely on the marketplace to set a cost, because people are going to be willing to spend anything if their loved one is dying. And so the marketplace is simply not an effective economic system that Obamacare did not address, and it needs to be addressed,” Gilliland said.

He said he doesn’t think they’re going to just repeal it without a replacement because parts of the bill are difficult to undo.

According to a press conference with Trump, it will be replaced “essentially simultaneously. It will be various segments, you understand, but will most likely be on the same day or the same week but probably the same day, could be the same hour.”

The Arizona Board of Regents Student Health Insurance Plan is in the midst of a Request For Proposal process to continue offering the same level of comprehensive health care coverage for the plan starting Aug. 16.

Director of Medical Services Michael Stilson said while this repeal and replace process continues, no changes are anticipated.

“We will have to see if any changes will be required as a result of a repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act after the conclusion of the 2017-2018 Policy Year on Aug. 15, 2018,” Stilson said.

Even if Obamacare is not replaced, students will always be able to go to Campus Health.

“All students are eligible as long as they are enrolled in classes,” West said. “And it’s surprising how many students do not know that. We focus on students. That’s our primary goal, the care of students on campus. Period. Always has been.”


Follow Rocky Baier on Twitter.


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