NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans covered by President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) are watching what a Republican-dominated Congress will do with the health care law now that members are back in session.
On the other hand, those Tennesseans who remain uninsured because of high rates say they are hoping the new President-elect follows through with promises of repealing Obamacare with something more affordable.
One of those keeping a close eye on what happens in Washington is long time health-care advocate Michele Johnson.
As executive director of the Tennessee Justice Center, she says there are 536,000 Tennesseans who have benefited from Obamacare by either by coverage or certain conditions of the act such as the removal of pre-existing conditions as a reason to deny health insurance coverage.
“There are plenty of problems with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but the question [for Washington] is do you drive the car off a cliff because it’s out of gas, or do you fix it?” the health care advocate told News 2. “A vast majority of Americans feel very strongly about eight of the nine major provisions of the ACA.”
Johnson cited the pre-existing condition provision as one of the most popular and effective.
“Our clients who are privately insured and have kids with special needs, they will lose lifetime cap protections,” she added, while saying these are the kind of things that used to bankrupt families who could not get insurance because of the pre-existing condition.
While Johnson reflects the worries and hopes of those on Obamacare, on the other side of the coin are those who are uninsured, but feel they could not afford the plan even with subsidies.
John Hodges, who works as an independent moving contractor, told News 2 how he needs health care, but has gone without it.
He’s pinning his hopes on President-elect Trump and Congressional action.
“I tried checking out Obamacare and it was out the roof – $680 a month,” Hodges told News 2. “I would like to see Obamacare taken away with something that’s affordable, decent and I could support myself with.”
What that might look like remains the big question so many Tennesseans are waiting to see.
Incoming Tennessee House Majority Leader Glen Casada does see a path forward for Congressional leaders.
He said people have to some personal responsibility and pay something for their health care.
“It can’t be free,” he told News 2. “If it’s free you abuse it, and you drive up the cost. Everyone has to pay something.”