NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - As President Donald Trump is intent on replacing former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform law, a UNO healthcare economist said achieving lower costs while retaining popular portions of the current law will be tough.
"Tonight, I am also calling on this Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time, provide better Healthcare," said President Trump to applause from republican members of Congress during his speech Tuesday evening.
"We shouldn't have people who can't get healthcare," said Callie Solano, as she sat outside a New Orleans coffee house.
But while Trump emphasized his stance on the health coverage law before a national audience, many questions remain on how to get there.
"That's hard to do," said Dr. Walter Lane, a healthcare economics expert at UNO.
And some locals who benefit from the Affordable Care Act, or know someone who does, are pensive.
"Will you guarantee that your health care plan or any republicans' healthcare plan that you sign will cover everyone who's covered by Obamacare? You as a doctor who swore an oath to do no harm," said June Butler, of Thibodaux last week to Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana during a town hall meeting.
Dr. Lane said the replacement part of President Trump's promise will be hard to achieve.
"He somehow thinks he can raise his hands and make it cheaper for everybody. We can provide care for everybody and cheaper, there's no magic way of that happening," Dr. Lane said.
Sen. Cassidy has legislation to replace the current law. It involves creating health savings accounts and federal tax credits for Americans.
Lane said to work the tax credits would have to meet the costs of insurance plans.
"So let's suppose you give a person that's making $40,000 a $6,000 check from the government to buy insurance and you get a bill for, what did I say, $14,000, where are they going to come up with the other $8,000," he said.
Cassidy's plan would also protect people with pre-existing medical conditions.
"The republicans are complaining about all these prices increases. The price increases are occurring for one reason, and one reason only, that because they got rid of the pre-existing condition exclusion the people that came into the system. Everybody knew that they were going to be sicker, but I've seen the numbers from Blue Cross and they were four times sicker than they predicted them to be," said Dr. Lane.
And Dr. Lane thinks scrapping the mandate that most Americans have health insurance would be really problematic.
"Which is the only thing that's holding costs down, they're keeping things that are driving costs up and somehow think they're going to solve the problem," he said.
In the meantime, he thinks insurers are edgy about what might be coming.
As for Solano, she is voluntarily without coverage even though there is currently a federal mandate.
"I will be penalized actually, there will be a small fee I am going to have to pay at the end for the year for my taxes to help cover a share that I'm not putting in, and I'm fine with that," she said.