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Sun Times Feature Story


Healthcare promises fall short, again


By Larry Blustein
sfsuntimes@aol.com
When President Obama was in his second year of his final term - sixth year overall - candidates were starting to let many know about their intentions for 2016.

As each filed and started to campaign, the issue that everyone talked about was health care. If you spoke with anyone in the know, the smart money was on the candidate - Republican or Democrat - that came up with a sound plan for health care. It was simple. It was easily the No. 1 topic.

While Obamacare was viewed as something that never quite hit the mark, millions had to jump into the deep end without knowing how things would end up. It was looked at by many as a failure, never living up to the promises that President Obama talked about.

Seven years after the Affordable Care Act passed, the law remains in place despite Republicans’ efforts to revoke and replace it. But problems with the ACA persist and changes could still occur, affecting both Obamacare and other health plans. Federal rules and state proposals could reduce mandated benefits, and Floridians could see even higher premiums and deductibles on coverage plans.

Kathy Moore of North Miami Beach is one of those who was caught in the middle. The 55-year-old has had heart problems, and because Obamacare’s major selling point was that preexisting conditions didn’t matter, she was on board - until her premiums went up.

“We are slowly being backed into a wall that all of us will crumble against,” Moore explained. “It is great that you can have health issues and still receive coverage, but what is happening, besides not keeping many of your doctors, are the premiums are too costly.”

Indeed, those in their late 40’s, 50’s, and early 60’s that are still working to make ends meet, cannot afford the rising premiums, and that’s where President Trump was supposed to rush in and make it affordable, and that is where we are today.

No matter where you go in this area - you will find doctors and patients equally as frustrated. There is really no silver lining to all of this - because there is no plan to replace what we have now - and that could end up being a huge problem to all.

“Young and old are in the same boat,” Chris O’Hara of Hollywood said. “Right now, with the premiums going through the roof, many employers are not able to help with the premiums the way they used to. There has to be something that will be good for both sides.”

O’Hara has had many talks with her friends and family about the issue, and while it has been a wait and see, if the Republicans are able to repeal and replace Obamacare, in a best case scenario, they won’t be able to have the new program up and running any sooner than 2019––and that could easily slip to 2020.

“I have followed this very closely,” O’Hara said. “First, they have to repeal Obamacare. Then they have to replace it by getting at least eight Democrats on board in the Senate.”

The process would indeed be never-ending. The Trump administration - or the 50 states will have to write the new rules for the new marketplace. Then the health plans will have to develop and price the new plans. Then the states will have to approve them for sale.

The waiting game in areas such as Dania Beach, Hollywood, Hallandale Beach, Aventura, North Miami Beach, Sunny Isles Beach and this entire region are hoping that the Trump administration, by trying to bring relief to some consumers, could just as easily further undermine the already shaky Obamacare risk pool.

Republicans need to be wise, here. Making an already fragile insurance exchange market even worse, could easily lead to some markets having only one or no health plans selling individual health insurance in 2018. Even if a health plan chooses to stay, a less stable market could lead to even higher prices and deductibles and even narrower provider networks for consumers.

We are all hoping for some kind of miracle to take place, but for now, Obamacare is not going anywhere!