Florida is leading the country in signing up for federal health insurance coverage for 2017 according to federal figures. With still about a month left in the open enrollment period, the numbers are expected to grow even as the Republican-controlled Congress plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act as early as this week.
Congress voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act is not new. Republicans have voted to repeal all or part of it 60 times since Democrat President Barack Obama signed it into law in 2010. What is new is that President elect Donald Trump is likely to sign off on a repeal.
Melissa Moncada is a navigator in North Florida. A navigator is trained to help people get the best plan for the best price. Moncada said people she counsels are worried about losing their health insurance.
“What we have been telling them is that as of right now, nothing’s changed," she said. "We don’t how long it’s going to take if anything does change, so make sure you’re covered for 2017 in case nothing does change. So you want to make sure that does happen. Now there’s some individuals who have never had health coverage and some of their questions might be is this even worth it?”
A straight repeal of the law would leave some 20 million Americans with no health insurance, including more than a million in Florida. That includes people in the 32 states that expanded Medicaid to low-income residents. Florida was one of more than a dozen that decided against expanding Medicaid.
Top Republicans like Paul Ryan of Wisconsin have said they will vote to repeal the healthcare law, also known as Obamacare. But they would phase it out over time. It’s unclear what would happen to the subsidies because Congress could defund the law rather than repeal it.
But U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, D-FL, said the plan doesn’t just worry patients, it’s also a problem for companies.
“Can you imagine what’s going to happen to the marketplace for hospital stocks and insurance company stocks and some pharmaceutical stocks. It’s going to throw a great deal of uncertainty into the healthcare system, which is the last thing in the world that we need. What we ought to do is to fix what we haven’t been able to fix because whenever we bring it up, the only answer to that was ‘Oh, you gotta repeal it.’”
Despite the uncertainty by consumers and stockholders, many Republicans got or kept their seat in office by campaigning to get rid of the law, including President-elect Trump.