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Report: 1 million Georgians may lose insurance with Obamacare repeal
FCN

An estimated 1 million Georgians stand to lose their health insurance if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, according to a new report from the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, an Atlanta-based think tank.

The losses would come as a result of fewer federal subsidies — to the tune of nearly $3 billion flowing to individuals and the state with lower enrollment.

Thursday was the deadline to enroll in the online marketplace exchanges for coverage to begin Jan. 1.

President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to repeal the ACA, widely known as “Obamacare,” and without a replacement, the move would subject thousands of Forsyth County residents to seeing their insurance options dwindle.

Before taxpayer-provided subsidies, premiums for a midlevel benchmark individual plan will increase an average of 25 percent across the 39 states served by the federally run online market created by the Affordable Care Act, according to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services. Some states will see much bigger jumps in 2017, others less.

In Forsyth County, the federal exchange will offer plans from five insurers, down from six in the marketplace in 2016.

Aetna will no longer provide healthcare coverage to the county.

That is less of an impact than in Hall County, where the federal exchange will offer only two plans from insurers – Alliant and Blue Cross Blue Shield – down from five in 2016.

In Forsyth in 2014, 11.7 percent of residents, or about 24,855 people, were uninsured, according to the latest census figures.

That number was lower than both state and national averages, which came in at 19.1 and 13.8 percent, respectively.

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, a Republican who serves Hall County and a small portion of northeast Forsyth, has said he believes spending and taxes to support the health care act will be repealed, effectively gutting the law.

The mission then becomes “how do we transition to a patient-centered, doctor-centered health care (system) that takes care of pre-existing conditions, family members staying (covered) until they’re 26, those kinds of things,” he said.

According to the GBPI, the loss of federal subsidies would present unique budgeting challenges for state and local governments.

And it warns that hospitals already straining to provide uncompensated care to the uninsured will see even more patients who cannot afford to pay.

“It is important for federal lawmakers to leave the ACA in place until a replacement is implemented that maintains health coverage for 1 million Georgians,” the report states, “and sustains adequate federal financial support for the state’s health care system.”

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FCN staff writer Isabel Hughes contributed to this report.