MIAMI (WSVN) - In the wake of the potential repeal of Obamacare, South Florida residents who are dependent on the law are considering, what they are calling, the potential devastating effects of repealing the law.
People who own local clinics where Obamacare is the norm are watching President-elect Trump very closely. Two thousand patients at one Wynwood clinic have Obamacare, and they are worried about what happens next.
The proper name of the law is the Affordable Healthcare Act but most know it is Obamacare. It’s the nine letter word many Republicans despise so much.
But more than 900 miles from Washington D.C., in Miramar, Frantz Olivier has a different view of the health care law. He says, it saved his life.
“[Obamacare was] a lifeline because I could have been so desperate that I will kill myself,” Olivier said.
Olivier was born with cerebral palsy. Because of his pre-existing condition, he says, he could not qualify for the type of insurance he needed to cover the cost of expensive surgeries. However, that all changed when he purchased a plan through the Affordable Care Act.
“You can see the pin right here, where they are pulling the ankle to try and make it straight,” Olivier said as he looked at X-rays.
In 2015, Olivier had six surgeries, on both legs, in one day. The 60-year old said without Obamacare, he wouldn’t be able to walk.
“It’s like you were in jail, and you get out,” he said.
But now that the law’s repeal is a very real possibility, Olivier is left to dwell on what it will mean for him.
“I am worried about it, very much so,” he said. “If you undo Obamacare, where am I going to have therapy? Who is going to pay for that? How am I going to deal with that?”
It’s a question many Floridians may have to ask themselves. The Sunshine State leads the nation in signups under the Affordable Care Act, with 1.6 million people so far in 2017, more than a half million in South Florida alone.
Thousands of Obamacare recipients come to Wynwood, where the St. John Clinic Medical Center serves residents in Miami’s low-income neighborhoods.
“We are the gatekeepers to the health care,” Reynaldo Cruz said.
The CEO said a repeal would hurt the clinic financially, but he’s more worried for his patients.
“If you take that away from them, a lot of these people might not go to their primary care providers and might end up in the hospital emergency room because they didn’t get the preventive care that was needed,” Cruz said.
Doctor Raul Ravelo is the incoming president of the Dade County Medical Association. He says he supports amending, not scrapping, the complex law.
“Don’t repeal it right now. Don’t do it right away, because it’s going to create a problem. It’s going to be a crisis in healthcare if they do that. That’s my own personal belief,” Ravelo said.
However, the radiation oncologist says Obamacare is not without its problems, including high premiums and deductibles and doctors who won’t accept the insurance.
“Now he has a horrible disease, cancer, and he cannot get part of the treatment because nobody will accept their policy,” Ravelo said.
And if anyone understands horrible diseases, it’s Olivier. He’s worried for others like him, worried about repeal without a clear path forward.
“It will mean that their life will be destroyed,” Olivier said.
People who purchased Obamacare will be able to keep their plan until the end of the year, and open enrollment will continue until the end of the month.
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