Health care changes ‘not promising’ for rural areas
Western and rural Colorado are unlikely to fare well in the effort to repeal, replace and/or repair the Affordable Care Act, an effort that won’t be easy, parliamentarily speaking.
Those are among the findings of the Colorado Health Institute, which began looking at the possible future of health care soon after Donald J. Trump’s surprising presidential election victory.
Any changes to the Affordable Care Act are likely to be “not promising” for the Western Slope, institute spokesman Joe Hanel told Club 20.
The outcome of the most likely changes are that older, less healthy people will pay more for health care — and that pretty much sums up rural Colorado, Hanel said.
Western Slope rural areas tend to have two distinct economies: resort business and extraction activities.
Counties with extraction-based economies have seen sharp increases in the number of people covered under the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, while subsidies for insurance premiums have been popular in the ski-country resort counties, Hanel said.
None of the proposals that have come to light appear to address the geographic variability in health care prices or deal with reducing the cost of health care, Hanel noted.
The way that Congress, and the Senate in particular, passed the Affordable Care Act makes portions of it difficult to change, much less repeal, the institute found.
Trump referred to the essential health benefits in his speech to the joint session of Congress, when he called for policy holders to be able to buy “the plans they want, not the plans forced on them by our government.”
There is a lesser standard for changing or removing other parts of the act, such as the penalty for failing to have insurance, market subsidies for insurance, Medicaid funding levels and the possible use of block grants to the states, and other budget-related matters, the institute said.
“With a simple majority, you can only do a partial repeals of the Affordable Care Act,” Hanel said.