Dem governors warn ObamaCare repeal will hurt states

Dem governors warn ObamaCare repeal will hurt states
© Getty Images

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Democratic governors are calling on Republicans in Congress to leave in place the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to as ObamaCare, warning that any move to replace the massive healthcare law will place a huge burden on state governments that have used federal money to help low-income residents gain access to medical care.

In a letter to Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanKenosha will be a good bellwether in 2020 At indoor rally, Pence says election runs through Wisconsin Juan Williams: Breaking down the debates MORE (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOcasio-Cortez to voters: Tell McConnell 'he is playing with fire' with Ginsburg's seat McConnell locks down key GOP votes in Supreme Court fight Video shows NYC subway station renamed after Ruth Bader Ginsburg MORE (R-Ky.), Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Wednesday that repealing ObamaCare could mean that 30 million people lose coverage by 2019.

"Repeal would throw millions of our residents off their health coverage, shift enormous costs to state governments — blowing a hole in state budgets — and cause economic uncertainty for our states' businesses, hospitals and patients," the governors said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Malloy is chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. Inslee is the vice chairman and Cuomo heads policy for the group.

In an interview in his office Tuesday, Inslee said stopping Republican efforts to roll back President Obama's signature domestic policy achievement is Democratic governors' top short-term priority.

"Our first obligation is to not allow the Republicans to pull off this scam, the healthcare equivalent of Trump University, by repealing this healthcare without a real replacement," Inslee said. "It is a scam."

Republican leaders in Congress have said they hope to repeal the ACA in the early days of the 115th Congress, but that repeal would not take effect for several years as Congress works out a replacement. President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll Trump dismisses climate change role in fires, says Newsom needs to manage forest better Jimmy Kimmel hits Trump for rallies while hosting Emmy Awards MORE has pledged to sign a repeal measure, though neither Trump nor Republicans in Congress have offered many details about what a replacement would look like.

"They want to have it both ways," Inslee said. "They want to appeal to their base, saying, 'We repealed ObamaCare,' but they don't actually want to let anybody know what they're doing."

In their letter to Ryan and McConnell, the Democratic governors cited studies, mostly from independent think tanks and foundations that back the ACA, that show repealing the law would lead to higher costs and higher uninsured rates. One Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study found repealing the law would cost states more than $68 billion over the next decade in uncompensated care.

Any repeal effort would impact Medicaid expansion under the ACA, which covers families whose income amounts to 138 percent of the poverty level. Thirty-one states, including Indiana, home of Vice President-elect Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceMcConnell locks down key GOP votes in Supreme Court fight Momentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election MORE, have accepted federal dollars to expand coverage to those low-income families through Medicaid.

"America's Democratic governors strongly urge Congress to reconsider its plan to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act," the governors wrote. They asked Congress "to instead work with governors to advance the progress made in expanding access to high quality health care and improving health outcomes for millions of our citizens."