Lawmakers, patients, and hospitals look to the future of Affordable Care Act

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — What does the future hold for the Affordable Care Act and the millions of Americans covered under its umbrella? It’s a hot-button issue as president-elect Donald Trump prepares to take over the White House.

“We’re all extremely anxious and my hope is that our government doesn’t kick millions and millions of Americans off of their policies,” said Ashley Hawkins, who has been covered under ACA for the past three years.

e44270d40d9d43e7b74ba5e54dd8b3a5Hawkins says healthcare costs took up about a third of her salary before she was insured.

“Zoey here is about 6 weeks old and I was able to get maternity coverage with the ACA which I wasn’t able to do with prior plans,” Hawkins said.

Partpresident-electlect Donald Trump’s platform has been to repeal the law. He’s since said he’s willing to keep parts of the law, but in anticipation of changes, Virginia lawmakers from the senate and house financial committees have created a new subcommittee.

“Which will allow us to track whatever changes happen in Washington,” Republican Delegate John O’Bannon said.

O’Bannon says changes must be made to ACA, pointing to what he says are problems in states that expanded Medicaid.

“They have way exceeded their budgets, they’re either raising taxes or robbing education and public safety,” O’Bannon explained.

O’bannon says with Republicans in control in D.C., there’s a chance to make some real changes to the law, which he says could include taking pieces of the insurance world that work.

“Where maybe you have a pre-existing condition exclusion, you have an annual enrollment,” O’Bannon said.  “Some portability where you can sell it across state lines and if you have a job and you have an insurance policy, that policy doesn’t ride with the job it rides with you.”

Julian Walker with the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association said they’re glad to see that state lawmakers aren’t jumping the gun.

“We are encouraged to see that members of the General Assembly have proposed to monitor the developments in Washington,” Walker said. “That wait and see approach is prudent.”

Walker says the hospital industry has seen dramatic funding cuts with ACA, but there have also been a lot of people that have taken advantage of the insurance coverage. Wondering if funding cuts will be restored and what will happen to those currently enrolled in the program, Walker says they will offer their advice when appropriate.

“That is in the best interest of Virginians, being able to have access high-quality health care,” Walker said.

“That is in the best interest of Virginians, being able to have access high-quality health care.”

Jill Hanken with the Virginia Poverty Law Center helps people sign up for the ACA. She says people can still get coverage through 2017, though she’s concerned about the future.

“Right now the affordable care act is in place, the law hasn’t been changed,” Hanken said. “I am concerned, I think the affordable care act could be improved, I think it could be repaired.”

But concerns over repeal are very real for those currently covered.

“That’s devastating for middle class people who are working hard to pay their bills and support their families,” Hanken added.

For more information about coverage, or if you would like to enroll, click here.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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