Fight to Repeal Obamacare Comes To Alaska

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It didn’t take long for Republican victories in the November elections to spur a fight over Obamacare. That fight has now made its way to the Last Frontier.

A new national group formed to fight against the repeal of Obamacare called The Alliance for Healthcare Security is launching digital and print advertisements in Alaska “Urging Congress to stop dangerous proposals that threaten the health coverage of Alaska families.”

The ads (seen below) feature a man looking off the end of an unfinished bridge. “Repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without an immediate plan to replace it is a big risk — like walking off an unfinished bridge,” the ad states.

In plain English that means don’t repeal Obamacare without some replacement, as congressional Republicans currently appear to be planning on doing. The group says that would cost 62,000 Alaskans access to healthcare.

“Alaskans need healthcare, not chaos. Our healthcare system is far from perfect, but hastily upending the current system without an alternative is irresponsible and will lead to chaos,” said Rev. Matt Schultz, a spokesperson for the Alliance for Health Security in Alaska. “30 million Americans, including 62,000 Alaskans, will lose their insurance if the Affordable Care Act is repealed without a viable replacement plan, and experts say that insurance premiums will skyrocket. Alaska families cannot afford the risk of Congress repealing the healthcare law without an immediate replacement.”

The Alliance for Healthcare Security describes itself as “a coalition of caregivers and healthcare advocates” and includes among its national members the Alliance for Retired Americans, American Medical Student Association, American Medical Women’s Association, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc., Community Catalyst, Doctors for America, Families USA, Medicare Rights Center, National Medical Association, National Partnership for Women and Families, National Physicians Alliance, Network for Patient Advocacy, Physicians for a National Health Program, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Service Employees International Union, and the United Spinal Association.

In Alaska, it is less clear who the coalition represents.The group held a press conference last week in Downtown Anchorage to highlight stories of Alaskans potentially affected by an ACA repeal, but details on who in Alaska is affiliated with the effort were in short supply.

Nonetheless, the group says the impacts on Alaskans would include:

  • 62,000 Alaskans would lose health coverage, a 53 percent increase in the number of uninsured. [Urban Institute]
  • Alaskans would lose $1.9 billion in federal financial assistance through the insurance marketplaces from 2019-2028, leading to a dramatic spike in the number of uninsured. [Urban Institute]
  • 16,205 Alaskans would lose an average monthly advanced premium tax credit of $750, which currently helps them pay for insurance. [Kaiser Family Foundation]
  • Alaskans would lose $1.3 billion in federal Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding, currently providing lifelines to 162,366Alaskans. [Urban Institute, Kaiser Family Foundation]

If the effort to save Obamacare is going to succeed, it needs to happen fast. As the Atlantic wrote Friday:

“A group of progressive advocacy groups will announce on Friday a coordinated effort to protect the beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act and stop Republicans from repealing the law without first identifying a plan to replace it.”

“They don’t have much time to fight back. Republicans on Capitol Hill plan to set repeal of Obamacare in motion as soon as the new Congress opens in January, and both the House and Senate could vote to wind down the law immediately after President-elect Donald Trump takes the oath of office on the 20th.”

“The emerging strategy is centered around highlighting people who have benefited from the law and who would lose insurance coverage or key consumer protections if it goes away. “We have to lead with them and their stories,” said Jeremy Bird, a Democratic strategist who served in senior roles for both President Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012 and Hillary Clinton’s campaign this year. “This is about what Trump and the Republicans want to take away from working families across the country, and we have to make that very clear this is what we’re talking about.”

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