Trump and the health care reform: what students need to know

Video by Andrew Wigdor / Assistant News Editor

Since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, he has removed the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and approved construction for the Keystone Pipeline. But one of his first orders of business was to begin the process of dissolving the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare.”

After being sworn into office, Trump moved forward with his health care reform promises Friday evening by signing an executive order to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

According to “CNN,” the executive order will not terminate the current law, but aims to “minimize the financial burden on individuals, insurers, health care providers and others.”

To reduce costs, such as the penalty fee for not having insurance, Trump’s order allows the secretary of health and human services to lessen enforcement of the Affordable Care Act regulations as needed. Even with an executive order, Trump cannot immediately overturn the ACA and must appoint an approved health secretary before further reversal of this law progresses.

Reversing the Affordable Care Act, however, would affect almost 20 million people currently utilizing “Obamacare,” including students.

A closer look at the impact on students

In the past six years since Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, 6.1 million people between the ages of 19 and 25 have gained health coverage, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

More specifically in Tennessee, 47,000 people between the ages of 19 and 25 are insured as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

One reason for this spike in millennial health coverage is a provision in the Affordable Care Act that permits “children” to remain on their parent’s health insurance until they are 26-years-old. The parents involved do not need to have Obamacare for this provision to affect their child because the Affordable Care Act requires all insurers with dependent child coverage to follow this guideline.

Anyone under the age of 26 is qualified to remain on their parents’ health insurance coverage whether or not they get married, are enrolled in school, continue to live with their parents or are no longer financially dependent on their parents.

Exceptions to this aspect of the Affordable Care Act are that this provision does not apply to children whose parents have Medicare, and if an adult under 26 has children, their children will not be covered on the grandparent’s insurance policy.

Under the Affordable Care Act, all insurance plans are also required to “cover preventative services” with no additional charges to patients, according to DHHS. These services include flu shots, cancer screenings, contraception and mammograms.

Overall, there has been a 28 percent decrease in the number of Tennesseans without health coverage since the Affordable Care Act was passed into law.

How Trump’s reform could affect students

Despite the increase of insured citizens state-wide and nationally, a Pew Survey conducted at the end of November found that 47 percent of Americans disapprove of the health care law, making it a key issue in the 2016 presidential election.

Objections to the Affordable Care Act over the years have stemmed from concern about cost impacts on budget and taxes, as well as concern about increased government involvement. In October, news that Obamacare’s premiums were expected to rise 22 percent this year revived opposition.

In his original campaign platform for health care reform, the only reference to young adults Trump makes in his seven-step plan falls under creating Health Savings Accounts. Trump describes the accounts as tax-free, part of the individual’s estate and “should be particularly attractive to young people who are healthy and can afford high-deductible insurance plans.”

When discussing free market values, Trump states, “We must also make sure that no one slips through the cracks simply because they cannot afford insurance,” and he emphasizes options for Medicaid.

Meanwhile, last Monday, Republican senators Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, proposed the first official draft of an “Obamacare” replacement plan, according to “USA Today.” The plan would give states the power to choose between three insurance options, one of which would be to keep the Affordable Care Act.

States would also be able to choose, however, to either accept part of the act’s funding or to refuse all federal assistance.

If states choose to remove the Affordable Care Act, there is concern among Democrats for people who would be forcibly losing “Obamacare” and ACA provisions, such as parental insurance coverage until the age of 26.

“Millions of Americans would be kicked off their plans, out-of-pocket costs and deductibles for consumers would skyrocket, employer-based coverage for working families would be disrupted and protections for people with pre-existing conditions, such as cancer, would be gutted,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told “CNN” last Monday.

Collins told “CNN” that she hopes to avoid creating coverage gaps by developing a solid replacement health care plan before “Obamacare” is repealed.

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To contact News Editor Brinley Hineman, email newseditor@mtsusidelines.com.

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