2016 Archives

With Obamacare, She Started A New Chapter

With Trump, She Fears It Could Close

Excerpt

The following is from the Nov. 16, 2016, edition of KERA public radio. SMU Law Professor Nathan Cortez provided expertise for this story.

November 18, 2016

By Lauren Silverman 

In the wake of the election, President Obama’s signature health care law is back in the spotlight. Republicans, including prominent Texans, have wanted to repeal the Affordable Care Act since it was signed into law in 2010. Now, with control of the White House and Congress, Republicans have a better chance than before to dismantle it. 

Leigh Kvetko feels a double-duty to stay healthy — for herself, and for the teenage girl whose death gave her new life — in the form of a donated pancreas and kidney.

“I am so grateful,” Kvetko says. “And I try to show that by taking care of myself. I can’t not take care of myself, I’m only here because of her and her family’s sacrifice.”

To stay healthy, Kvetko has to take 10 medications twice a day. Several of the pills cost $1,000 each a month. For years, Kvetko stuck with a corporate job in Austin she hated in large part because it offered health insurance. When the Affordable Care Act passed, insurers could no longer discriminate against people like Kvetko, who have pre-existing conditions, and she and her husband finally felt free. ...

Southern Methodist University law professor Nathan Cortez says it’s far too early to make any firm predictions about what is going to happen. 

“We’ve heard promises, or threats, depending on your perspective, to get rid of the entire thing,” Cortez says. “There’s a pretty wide range of possible outcomes right now, anything from burn it all down, full repeal, which would be difficult procedurally but nevertheless would be possible, to very subtle changes, in which Republican House and Senate members and President Trump could claim that they’ve repealed it but really just got rid of a few unpopular provisions.” ...

Law professor Nathan Cortez says the Affordable Care Act is like Jenga set, if you take out certain parts – like the taxes and individual mandate – the whole thing could collapse.

“It’s hard to cherry-pick certain provisions you don’t like without undermining the entire thing,” Cortez says. “A lot of Republicans might be fine with undermining the whole thing, but if they do that they’re going to be jeopardizing a lot of popular provisions from the act.”

For example, Cortez says, if Republicans get rid of the insurance exchanges but keep the prohibition against using pre-existing conditions as a disqualifier, what’s left is a law that doesn’t allow insurers to deny coverage, but also doesn’t give people like Leigh Kvetko a way to find affordable plans.

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