Former Obama official: Repealing Obamacare will hurt seniors

Former Obama official: Repealing Obamacare will hurt seniors
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An Obama administration official who helped construct the Affordable Care Act says repealing it without a replacement will hurt seniors by driving up the cost for medicines under Medicare.

Nancy-Ann DeParle, who led the White House Office of Health Reform, noted that a coverage gap in prescription drug costs known as the "donut hole" was fixed by ObamaCare. If the law is repealed, seniors will again have to pay the full costs for a substantial portion of their drug purchases. 

"Seniors will lose their coverage for prescription drugs in their 'donut hole,' so they'll have a lot of drugs that they have to pay for that they don't have to pay for now ... and Medicare's solvency would be much worse," Nancy-Ann DeParle told “The Axe Files,” a joint podcast between CNN and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics hosted by former Obama adviser David AxelrodDavid AxelrodMark Halperin inks book deal 2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care The Hill's Morning Report - More talk on guns; many questions on Epstein's death MORE.

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In 2017, the coverage gap begins when a Medicare beneficiary's total drug costs hit $3,700. Without ObamaCare's changes, the beneficiary must then pay 100 percent of their drug costs until they have reached $4,700 in purchases. 

DeParle also raised other concerns with repealing ObamaCare. She said that getting rid of the individual mandate that stipulates people must purchase insurance or pay a penalty will require more spending by the federal government if people are going to keep insurance.

Without the mandate, which is intended to get younger and healthier people to buy policies on ObamaCare's exchanges, those signing up would be disproportionately old and sick, raising costs for insurers.

"Could you make it work? Perhaps, with massive subsidies, much larger tax credits and subsidies than we currently have,” she said.

DeParle argued that the Obama administration received ample input from Republican lawmakers while crafting the legislation, meaning the healthcare law includes conservative concepts.  

"These were things that we thought made the law stronger. Ideas to go after fraud, waste and abuse; ideas to make prices more transparent," she said. "They were good ideas and we agreed with them."

However, no Republicans voted for ObamaCare when it was approved by the House and Senate. 

Republicans are currently working to come up with a plan to replace ObamaCare, which they took the first steps toward repealing last month through a process known as budget reconciliation.

President Trump has told Congress he wants a replacement for the legislation to come "very quickly."