Concerns are raised after Senate takes first steps to repeal Affordable Care Act

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Senate took its first step in repealing the Affordable Care Act early Thursday morning.

Patrick Sallee, the Chief External Relations Officer with Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center, said this does raise concerns for the future.

“The ACA, for all of its challenges, has really given access to quality healthcare at places like Samuel Rodgers, and Swope and Kansas City Care Clinic,” Sallee said. “The first steps in repealing without a replacement creates some real challenges for people in our community that need healthcare.”

He said it’s unknown what will happen if it's repealed.

“There are a number of options with what is being thrown around. One of the biggest concerns for us as a health center is Medicaid continues to exist and operate,” Sallee said. “Missouri and Kansas are both states that didn't expand Medicaid, which would've given a lot more citizens and communities access to care and communities."

"And we would like Medicaid to still exist. Community health centers are facing a funding cliff related to a different set of money, but that's coming up at the end of this fiscal year in September, which organizations like ours, could see as much as a 70 percent decline in funding if it was not renewed," Sallee said. "The challenge with us is this is happening all at the same time as this ACA discussion and what happens to the repeal and replace. It's all at the same time even though it's a different set of money.”

As clients come into the Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center, Health Insurance Services Program Manager Jim Torres said he and his co-workers have a transparent conversation about what this first step of this repeal means.

“What we're telling our people and I think the most important thing to remember is that right now, the Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land,” Torres said. “As of most recent count, since the last open enrollment period just started November 1, more than 11 and a half million Americans have gone back and enrolled or re-enrolled in health coverage for 2017, and we don't expect that to change, regardless of what happens in Congress.”

If the House does plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Sallee said this wouldn’t be a change that would happen overnight.

“People who are currently looking at options for the marketplace and Medicaid and even some enrollments, those are still active and available and those would be throughout the rest of 2017,” Sallee said.

The House plans to vote on the measure on Friday.

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Rae Daniel can be reached at Rae.Daniel@KSHB.com.

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