NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The millions of Americans who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act are on an uncertain path with Republican lawmakers close to agreeing on a plan that aims at reforming the nation's healthcare system.
"I qualify for the Medicaid program. If this were to happen because I have a preexisting condition, I would lose my healthcare and that would be detrimental," New Orleans resident Cristiane Rosales-Fajardo said.
Thursday, dozens of low-income families gathered at the New Orleans East Community Health Center to hear from doctors and experts about the possible future of healthcare.
"When you lose access to healthcare, it starts to affect your quality of life, it starts to affect mortality and evidence has proven that," NOELA's Chief Medical Officer Keith Winfrey said.
Winfrey agreed there are problems with the ACA that need to be addressed, but with 430,000 people in Louisiana receiving Medicaid, he is concerned the plans that have been offered will not protect them.
"I think the plans that are coming out now just aren't sufficient for what the healthcare system needs. I think they really need to sit down and think through how do we stabilize the market place right now so that healthcare doesn't collapse and then let's look at fixing the parts of ACA that need to be fix, removing the parts of ACA that don't work at all and keep the parts that are working," Winfrey said.
"It's a real impact to every area of our budget when you see these substantial medicaid cuts. That's going to put downward pressure on the budget for higher education, for public safety and for all manner of things that get funded at the state level," Senior Policy Analyst for Louisiana Budget Project Nick Albares said.
LBP is a non-partisan organization that monitors and reports on public policy and how it affects Louisiana's low to moderate-income families.
Albares wants a bipartisan effort at the national level and more input from those in the medical industry to find solutions.
"If we could really come together, put aside the rhetoric and really bring patients and doctors and hospitals into the conversation, I think we can come out with something good," Albares said.
But with Senate Democrats and a couple of Republicans strongly opposed to either bill, patients are left in limbo.
"I'm not just fighting for me. I'm fighting for my children. I'm fighting for the next generation because this is going to cut that process if we don't have healthcare," said Rosales-Fajardo.