Local health care experts discuss possible changes under Trump

Sarah Nader- snader@shawmedia.com
Omar Hernandez, pharmacist at Family Health Partnership Clinic, organizes the dispensary while working at the Family Health Partnership in Crystal Lake Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016.
Sarah Nader- snader@shawmedia.com Omar Hernandez, pharmacist at Family Health Partnership Clinic, organizes the dispensary while working at the Family Health Partnership in Crystal Lake Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016.

President-elect Donald Trump has said he plans to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act under his administration.

Trump would need 60 votes from the U.S. Senate for a full repeal, which is unlikely since the GOP won’t have a 60-seat supermajority. Still, there could be a partial repeal to the Affordable Care Act under Trump, which would result in major changes to Illinois’ health care.

“We’re fully anticipating potential changes and looking ahead,” said Suzanne Hoban, executive director of Family Health Partnership Clinic.

Based in Crystal Lake, Family Health Partnership Clinic would be one of the many health care providers around McHenry County affected by a possible repeal.

“I have not heard a lot about the replacement yet,” Hoban said. “But some of the things that I’ve heard being discussed may benefit high-income workers … and I’m not seeing a lot of positive things for low-income workers.”

Hoban said a lot of adults without disabilities have access to Medicaid in Illinois under the ACA.

“But if it goes away, those people will lose their coverage,” Hoban said. “So while the ACA has some unintended consequences, I overall think it was positive, and changing it could be a disaster.”

While it still is unclear what policies might be implemented, Hoban said she still wants to be ready in case some major changes do occur.

“If a good amount of the ACA is repealed, we’ll see an uptick in the number of patients that we are seeing,” Hoban said. “More uninsured people will be seeking our services.”

The Family Health Partnership Clinic then would likely need more staff, volunteer hours and resources in general to keep up with the demand.

“And we’ll probably need to look at doing a program where we can help people who would have lost their insurance from the changes,” Hoban said.

McHenry County Board member Chuck Wheeler, R-McHenry, who also is the president of Health Insurance Mart Agency Inc., said he’s been advocating the repeal of the ACA since its inception.

“It was never designed to be affordable, but just affordable to those who weren’t paying for coverage,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler said the problem was there was no valve to slow the flow of access, and there should have been more measures taken to control the flow.

“Major carriers lost trillions of dollars from Obamacare,” Wheeler said.

“So I think the best answer to solving our health care problem is free market,” Wheeler said. “We should be allowing there to be a competition across state lines and allowing people to decide what coverage they need, instead of the government deciding what is needed.”

Danny Chun, vice president of corporate communications and marketing for the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, said more than 1 million people in Illinois have gained health insurance coverage under the ACA. As a result, Chun said he would be concerned if most of these people would end up losing their coverage because of potential major changes.

“This is an issue this country has faced for many, many years,” Chun said. “One problem is the uninsured often don’t seek health care when they need it and their conditions worsen.”

Chun said repealing the ACA could result in Illinois hospitals absorbing bad debt because they may get a lot of uninsured patients who can’t pay for their services.

“Some hospitals may step up and offer them services for free or for a major discount, which would result in a loss of money for the hospitals,” Chun said.

However, Chun said he’s looking forward to working in a bipartisan manner with both parties to find the best approaches that will strengthen the nation’s health care system.

“We all agree that we want to fix things and make things better for everyone,” Chun said.

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