SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — President-elect Donald Trump repeated his promise on Wednesday to repeal Obamacare.
“As soon as our secretary is confirmed, there will be a plan, it will be repeal and replace,” Trump said.
And he said it will all happen quickly.
But Californians, and the millions of people now benefiting from Obamacare, are bracing for what will happen if the federal funding disappears.
It’s not a campaign promise anymore.
Trump confirmed getting rid of Obamacare is at the top of his agenda.
Trump said, “You’re going to be very proud of what we put forth.”
President-elect Trump was once again short on details of his plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, but he did say both would be done simultaneously.
“It will most likely be on the same day,” he said.
And that has California officials worried, with good reason.
Gov. Jerry Brown said at his budget briefing, “I don’t think there’s a politician in American history who can imagine taking away health insurance for 20 million Americans.”
And more than 5 million of them are here in California.
That includes Californians such as Mandy and Garrett. She’s a music teacher, he’s a freelance writer.
The soon-to-be parents have an $800 a month plan. They pay $500; feds pay the other $300.
Garrett said, “We’re already paying about as much as we can for the plan we do have…”
And the couple says, “If the insurance things had been a question mark…we might not have been able to make the decision to have a family.”
Ken Jacobs of UC Berkeley says if Obamacare goes away it could be almost impossible to maintain the coverage these — and other — Californians are getting.
“California’s going to have to look at what do we do as a state,” Jacobs said.
Right now, 1.2 million residents get subsidies like Mandy and Garrett.
Another 4.1 million get their coverage through the expansion of Medicaid, with most of the money coming from the federal government.
Jacobs said, “Right now we receive $20 billion in subsidies…it’s a lot of money to try to make up.”
But, Jacobs says, coming up with a workable alternative is a massive undertaking.
Among the possibilities Team Trump has talked about are incentives for people to contribute to health savings accounts, grants to states to subsidize insurance for “high-risk” populations and allowing insurers to sell health care plans across state lines.
The director of California’s health care exchange says that last idea won’t work.
Peter Lee with Covered California said, “It’s a good theory, but in practice, you need to set up a network of doctors in California…you need to comply with California regulations…”
Governor Brown says he’s waiting to see Trump’s plan.
“We’ll respond in the best way we can at that point,” Brown said.
The couple, and soon to be parents on Covered California, say they are worried about the future and that it could be painful.
“It would be very very tough for us…,” the couple said.
To put that $20 billion subsidy in perspective, that is the amount that California currently spends on the entire UC, CSU and junior colleges.