Two Democratic Los Angeles County supervisors signaled a willingness Tuesday to fight hard against a threatened repeal of the Affordable Care Act, widely referred to as Obamacare.
Ridley-Thomas previewed a motion, co-authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, calling for strong opposition to any efforts to weaken the law that provided health insurance for an estimated 1.2 million Los Angeles County residents.
“Rolling back the ACA would endanger the health and economic well-being of millions of people, not only in Los Angeles County, but across the country,” Ridley-Thomas said.
“We must fight efforts at every step that would endanger this landmark legislation to prevent a tsunami of hurt triggered by a repeal.”
In addition to the county residents who gained health insurance under the ACA, many more benefited from provisions that allowed children to stay on parents’ coverage until age 26, prohibited insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, eliminated caps on catastrophic illnesses and required more employers to offer insurance, Ridley-Thomas said.
“The new administration in Washington and its threats to repeal the ACA pose a very serious challenge to the health and well-being of county residents,” Kuehl said.
“Should repeal or any significant diminution occur, LA needs to be at the forefront of helping to craft a way to protect those we serve because if it doesn’t work for LA County, it won’t work for California.”
Speaker Paul Ryan said last week House Republicans “are working to repeal and replace Obamacare to help people who are struggling with these higher premiums, to help people who have lost their plan or their doctor or both, to help people left with just one insurer to choose from, as is the case with one out of every three counties in America.
This is not what the country was promised,” Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said at a Washington news conference. “Far from it. More and more, we see things getting worse. More and more, we see this law collapsing in front of us.
So we could do one of two things. We could just sit back and watch the collapse happen and see people get hurt, or we could step in and conduct a rescue mission, which is to rescue the American health care system from the collapse that is coming because of Obamacare.”
The supervisors cited a recent study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and UC Berkeley Labor Center, which warned a repeal could trigger a loss of $5.8 billion in gross domestic product and eliminate 63,000 jobs in healthcare and other industries,
Labor leaders said they were also ready to join the fight.
“As the union representing LA County’s healthcare workers, we know we cannot afford to go back to the days where care was done in the emergency room,” said Bob Schoonover, president of SEIU Local 721.
“It is Washington’s responsibility to protect or create a plan that works for everyone. Here in LA County, we are ready to defend and fight for a plan that delivers the care that our communities need.”
The motion, which also proposes that the county CEO and health agency director come up with options for covering residents in the event of a repeal, will be considered next week.