What happens if Obamacare goes away? South Bay medical experts weigh in

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ByChris Nguyen KGO logo
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
South Bay reacts to Supreme Court hearing on Obamacare
Medical experts are weighing in on the Supreme Court hearing over Obamacare, and the possible dangers if the Affordable Care Act were to be taken away.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday morning in a case that will determine the future of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

A decision in California v. Texas isn't expected until June, but could result in millions of Americans losing their health insurance, as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on across the country.

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"Life is incredibly unpredictable and the ACA really is that safety net," said Santa Clara resident Kayla Williams, a recent college graduate who is covered through her father's health insurance, which is a provision that could go away if the ACA is struck down.

"When you are able to stay in that health home that you've been in, for as long as possible, you maintain quality care and you continue to develop long-lasting relationships with your provider," Williams said.

More than 20 million Americans are at risk of losing their health insurance if the current law isn't upheld. Protections for nearly 54 million people with pre-existing conditions could also go away. The case was brought forth by the Trump administration and 18 Republican-led states, who argue that the law is unconstitutional, since the individual mandate is no longer in place.

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"This is a very technical case about this question, the doctrine of severability, and to what extent you can separate parts of a large act," said Santa Clara University constitutional law professor Deep Gulasekarem.

The state of California, which is a co-defendant in the case, has a significant interest in making sure that the ACA stays, as it relates to expanding coverage of prescription medicine and emergency care among other services due to its large population.

Gulasekarem added, "I think we might get some indications of whether this Supreme Court is willing to allow Congress to address the most pressing problems that are facing the nation today."

Some say the potential cuts would be devastating for families across the state. ABC7 News spoke to Reymundo Espinoza, president and CEO of Gardner Health Services, a non-profit network of health clinics that serves close to 36,000 people in Silicon Valley. He says the majority of his patients are either uninsured or get their health insurance through the ACA, which is also known as Obamacare.

"These challenges are just making it worse at a time when people are really, I think, tired as a result of the impact that COVID has had, and the stress of not having jobs," said Espinoza.

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