President-elect Trump open to keeping some of Obama's healthcare law

President-elect Trump open to keeping some of Obama's healthcare law

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - President-elect Donald Trump says he is open to compromise on the law that has afforded insurance to over 20 million Americans.

"It's just a sense of security, really, is the best part of it. I'm happy for the people around me who I know are able to get coverage as well," said Cassidy Henderson.

Henderson appreciates having health coverage, something made possible by the Affordable Care Act and the federal subsidies it provides.

"The subsidy has been really helpful, employment a little hard to come by," he said.

He is not alone in being pensive over the future of coverage after the election of Trump, who said early and often that if elected he would replace President Obama's signature piece of legislation.

"I'm concerned about women having safe access to family planning, making sure they have access to birth control," said Katherine McGuire, who also has insurance now. She is a grad student working to become a therapist and is worried about health coverage for the mentally ill, as well.

In an exclusive interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump signaled he is willing to keep parts of the current law. A decision made after Thursday's Oval Office meeting between Trump and Obama.

Trump apparently favors keeping protections for people with pre-existing conditions and the part of the program that allows families to keep their children on their policies longer.

"He's flipped back and forth so many times, so I would like to believe," said McGuire.

Trump's openness on health care reform comes as the White House said people are signing up for coverage in droves before any changes can happen.

"Obviously, there is a massive state of flux right now and I think people are trying to learn as much as they can about the options that they have," said Jeff Drozda, chief executive officer of Louisiana Association of Health Plans.

"Seventeen or 18 percent of the entire economy is in the health care sector," said Walter Lane, a healthcare economics expert at the University of New Orleans.

Trumps wants to allow individuals to use health savings accounts and have contributions be tax-free and holders could pass them on to their heirs.

"Health savings accounts make a lot of sense, and it allows consumers have much more responsibility and say where their health care dollars go and are spent," said Drozda.

Lane said he is a fan of HSAs, but he is not convinced that everyone would benefit under Trump's plan.

"For chronically ill or low-income people, where is the money in the health savings account coming from? Well, if it's out of your pocket, can you afford to put $5,000 of your own money into your health savings account? Well if you do that, you get a tax benefit from it, but if you're a low-income person, your tax benefit is so low that it's trivial," said Lane.

And as part of health care reform, Louisiana this past summer expanded Medicaid to give an additional 300,000-plus residents health coverage.

Susan Todd, executive director of 504HealthNet, said the ACA has benefited nearly 90,000 people in the New Orleans area alone and should not be scrapped.

"There are things that need to happen. It definitely needs, you know, premiums are high, there are things that need to happen to make it better…Let's strengthen it, let's make it better," she said.

Trump is not a fan of the mandates in the law requiring most all Americans to have health coverage. But Lane said getting rid of mandates would burden hospitals with more uncompensated care costs.

"Hospitals are barely keeping their heads above right now," he said.

Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospitals said Friday that while it is premature to know which of Trump's campaign messages will translate into actual policy decisions, the agency and the Gov. John Bel Edwards administration would work closely with the state's congressional delegation and the incoming Trump administration to discuss healthcare in Louisiana and how it will be financed going forward.

Because it was a federal holiday, information from the federal government on what percentage of Louisiana residents may have been part of the rush this week to purchase insurance was not available.

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