City, state officials decry House Republicans’ attempted repeal, replacement of Affordable Care Act


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston) speaks on Feb. 12 at an Open Communities event. Schakowsky decried House Speaker Paul Ryan’s decision to continue his attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Zoe Miller, Reporter

Local officials and healthcare professionals decried the decision by House Republicans on Tuesday to continue their efforts to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, despite failing to advance a replacement bill last week.

In Evanston, some city and state officials voiced their concern over House Speaker Paul Ryan’s pledge to continue plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — one of President Donald Trump’s first major goals in office.

“We will have many millions of people without care if we don’t have access to the Affordable Care Act,” said Evonda Thomas-Smith, the city’s director of health and human services. “So it will really cripple our health care delivery system and really disconnect millions of people across the county (and) interrupt their care.“

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston) challenged the notion that such a repeal could succeed, given the disunity of Republicans in Congress displayed during the repeal process. She said it would be unlikely that Republicans could reconcile the demands of both their moderate and more conservative factions.

Schakowsky also attributed the initial failure to repeal and replace Obamacare to a surge of activism across the country.

“They heard from so many constituents, literally millions of people calling Congress,” Schakowsky said. “Only 17 percent of the American people said that they supported their plan and if you look at all the groups that were opposing it across the spectrum, you had all the health care groups … and you had even a number of the right-wing groups.”

Members of the House Freedom Caucus, a far-right group, largely opposed the bill.

Schakowsky said if Republicans eventually succeed in repealing the Affordable Care Act, the consequences would not only negatively impact American citizens, but also hurt the electability of those who voted for the repeal.

On Tuesday, Ryan said Republicans would continue to work toward the repeal of Obamacare and pledged to find a suitable replacement, but declined to give a timeline.

“Obamacare is a collapsing law. It’s doing too much damage to families,” Ryan said at a Tuesday news conference. “We all want a system in health care where everyone can have access to affordable coverage.”

But repealing Obamacare without an “appropriate” replacement may impact the funding and range of services that Evanston health care center Erie Family Health could provide, said Melissa Hilton, vice president of development and communications.

“We’ve seen the benefits and that’s why the position of community centers is that whatever happens with repealing the Affordable Care Act, we do not want to see that happen without an appropriate replacement,” Hilton said.

Hilton said Erie adjusts the cost of its care depending on a patient’s ability to pay and has been able to expand its services as a result of the Affordable Care Act. She added that when patients who were previously unable to pay enroll in an insurance plan, centers like Erie are better able to help the populations they serve.

Despite the initial failure to dismantle Obamacare, Thomas-Smith said she was still concerned for the future of Evanston residents’ health care.

“I’m certain that if it does happen it will have a great impact on many of the families that we serve here in Evanston,” Thomas-Smith said.

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