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Report: Tennesseans Would Pay Price for ACA Repeal

An Urban Institute report finds that Tennessee working families and children would pay the price for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. (Kelly/
An Urban Institute report finds that Tennessee working families and children would pay the price for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. (Kelly/
December 12, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Politicians on both sides of the aisle would admit that there is room for improvement for the Affordable Care Act and the Health Exchange, but a growing number of Republicans are calling for repeal of the legislation.

While starting over sounds logical to some, a new report from the Urban Institute finds that would come at a significant cost to millions of Americans.

Michele Johnson, executive director of the Tennessee Justice Center, says before a repeal, lawmakers must have a plan in place.

"Rural Tennesseans are going to be impacted by a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, unless there's a replacement, and that's why it's vitally important that if there are problems that politicians have with the plan, that they fix those problems, that they don't drive the car off the cliff just because it needs its oil changed," she stresses.

According to the report, the number of uninsured people would more than double to 59 million by 2019. Additionally, 82 percent of the uninsured would be working families.

In Tennessee, there would be a 79 percent increase in the number of uninsured, and families receiving tax credits under the ACA would lose more than $5,000 a year in assistance.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University, says it's important that citizens pay attention to what is being proposed in the new year in Washington before it's too late.

"Congressional leaders are moving very quickly to try to do this in January as soon as they return from the holidays so people are not aware that this could happen so quickly and also they're not aware of the consequences," she points out.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee is among those calling for fellow lawmakers to create a replacement for health coverage before the ACA is repealed.

Johnson says others should follow suit.

"That's folks who are interested in governing and who basically care about the real Tennesseans who are sitting at their kitchen tables trying to figure out how do they make their budget this week and this month and how do they make sure that their children have a bright future,” she states. “Playing political games is fine. It's really, really harmful in this context. The stakes are too high for Tennesseans. "

Opponents of repealing the ACA point out that Congress has voted numerous times to repeal the act, but in six years have yet to agree on a replacement.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN