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Repeal of Obamacare has impact on Idahoans

Congress has approved the first step toward dismantling President Barack Obama’s health care law, the Affordable Care Act. The move could have an impact on the 100,000 Idahoans who are enrolled in the Idaho exchange, Your Health Idaho.

Republicans pushed a budget through Congress on Friday that provides an early but crucial victory in the effort.

The budget prevents Democrats from using a Senate filibuster to derail a bill annulling and replacing the law. That’s critical because it takes 60 votes to end filibusters, while Republicans have a 52-48 Senate majority.

Stephen Weeg chairman of Your Health Idaho said there will not be an immediate effect on the 100,000 Idaho subscribers. He doesn’t expect any changes to occur during 2017.

“Your Health Idaho is in place. People can buy on that,” Weeg said. “If you need insurance, it is a good place to buy insurance this year.”

The real work lies ahead. Republicans must decide which parts of Obama’s statute to erase, what a new version should look like and how to protect the 20 million people who are getting health coverage under the 2010 law.

“The question becomes what and how do you do something different to help people who need it to get the health care they need, but do it in a different way,” said Weeg. “So the question is what is that different way and will it happen and what are the impact on insurance companies, individuals and hospitals.”

If Congress does not approve a new health care bill before the Affordable Care Act is fully repealed, millions of Americans will lose their insurance.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates 366,000 Idahoans would be uninsured in 2019 if a full repeal is successful. That’s up from the 183,000 currently uninsured.

The financial burden on Idaho would be significant as well. The Center says a repeal means the loss of $331 million in federal marketplace spending in 2019 and $3.7 billion between 2019 and 2028.

The House approved the budget Friday by a near party-line 227-198 vote.

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