LOS ANGELES (CN) – Los Angeles County leaders said Tuesday they will resist the repeal and replacement of the federal health care law by passing a resolution to encourage Congress to repair the law rather than dismantle it.
The motion passed unanimously at an afternoon meeting of Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Mark Ridley-Thomas wrote the resolution to defend the law whose full name is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Kuehl cautioned against outlining a plan for alternatives without first fighting for the law.
“I don’t want us to develop a plan to live without the ACA,” Kuehl said, using a common abbreviation for the Affordable Care Act, “because my experience in Sacramento has been, the minute you develop a plan for how we’re going to do without the money, they say, ‘You see? They’ll be fine without the money. They’ve got a plan.’”
Upon passing the motion, county leaders instructed the Chief Executive Office’s Legislative Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations to oppose repealing the law.
In Los Angeles County alone 300,000 people have signed up for insurance under Covered California, the state’s health care exchange. About 900,000 people benefited from the expansion of Medicaid in the state, according to the motion.
Millions more have taken advantage of provisions that allow children to stay on their parents’ plans until they are 26 years old, and that forbid insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
“Unfortunately, the president of the United States and members of Congress have advocated for the repeal of the ACA; it is unknown whether the repeal would include all or some of the features of the ACA,” the motion states. “It is also unknown whether it would be replaced by something else and, if so, what that would be.”
Dr. Mitchell Katz, director of the Los Angeles County Health Agency, told the board that, compared with other parts of the state, a disproportionate number of people went without insurance before the Obama administration enacted the ACA.
“Improve the ACA; don’t take away the ACA,” Katz said.
President Donald Trump campaigned on repealing and replacing so-called Obamacare and said his replacement would be better and cover more Americans. Republicans released a paper last week that outlines a proposed replacement but some have questioned the wisdom of doing away with the law altogether.
Trump’s administration and the Republican-led Congress have voiced support for transferring control of the federal Medicaid program to state governments.
But L.A. County leaders are concerned that state block grants would underfund Medicaid and a corresponding loss in quality of care.
“Such funding decreases may also result in decreases in access to Medicaid or to rates paid to providers,” the motion states.
The stakes are high. A joint study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and UC Berkeley Labor Center cited in the motion states that repeal of the law would lead to almost 63,000 job losses and cost the county $5.8 billion in Gross Domestic Product.
Nancy Marisa Gomez of the California group Health Access said after the meeting that in the next 60 days Congress will debate how to repeal and replace the law.
“A decade ago L.A. was ground zero for the insured crisis in America,” Gomez said. “That’s a dubious distinction to have. Look at all the progress we’ve made. We do not want to go back.”
The board also directed the director of the Health Agency and the chief executive officer to report on the impacts on the county if ACA is repealed and replaced.