The Pulse: What’s At Stake For Rhode Islanders If Obamacare Is Repealed?

State health care leaders are keeping a close watch on the future of the Affordable Care Act. President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican congress say they want to repeal most of the law and replace it with something else. But that could impact health care for Rhode Islanders in significant ways. Rhode Island Public Radio’s Kristin Gourlay joins Chuck Hinman to talk about what’s at stake.

Here’s a transcript of their conversation:

HOST: Kristin – let’s jump right into the heart of the matter. What could Rhode Islanders lose if the Affordable Care Act is repealed?

KRISTIN: A lot. Whether you support it or not, Obamacare is much more than just the law that extended health insurance coverage to millions of people who didn’t have it. It affects the kind of coverage we all have and what we pay for it.

HOST: So give us some examples. How many people has the law affected here in Rhode Island and what’s on the line for them.

KRISTIN: Obamacare expanded eligibility for Medicaid – the state health insurance program for the poor. Tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders gained health insurance under this expansion – those are people who may not have been able to afford health insurance before. Policy expert Linda Katz with the Economic Progress Institute told me she’s worried federal funds for that expansion could dry up – and that’s more than 90 percent of what’s paying for the expansion right now. Obamacare also provides subsidies to help people buy insurance on the exchanges – ours is called HealthSource RI. And the question is: what is the plan to help the 30,000 Rhode Islanders who receive those tax credits afford coverage on their own?