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Medical Providers Warn of Big Costs in Ohio if Obamacare is Repealed

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown hosted a roundtable discussion Sunday on the future of the Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Brown opened the meeting at MetroHealth in Cleveland by saying he is more optimistic about Obamacare’s survival now than he would have been a week ago, citing “intense public opposition” to the GOP plans to repeal and replace.

He says the opposiiton is “cutting across lines of gender and race and income and political party and geography. So, they’re seeing that. They’re also beginning to feel the politics of this: what it might mean to their future. And they’re also beginning to see the difficulty – if not impossibility -- of actually ‘replace.’”

Brown also pointed out that close to one million Ohioans would lose coverage if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

Jean Polster, CEO of Neighborhood Family Practice community health centers, said killing Obamacare would be costly on many levels.

“If folks are forced to rely on emergency rooms, don’t know where to turn, afraid of hospital bills, can’t get their medication -- not only does it have a financial impact on health centers, but it clearly would have an impact on those individuals themselves. And that’s a very grave concern.”

Sen. Brown also cited a new report by PolicyMatters Ohio, which estimates that repealing the Affordable Care Act would cost Ohio hospitals $15 billion over the next eight years, and would cost the state $3.5 billion in Medicaid funding in 2019.

Akron protest
Later in the day, about 70 people gathered in Akron as part of a national series of protests against repealing the ACA.

Vivien Sandlund of Kent described herself as an “older parent” worried about her 15-year-old daughte. Sandlund will be on Medicare well before her daughter is at the age 26 cut-off for dependents to remain on their parents' health insurance.

“I don’t know what kind of job she’ll be able to get [and] whether it will provide health insurance. I worry that she’ll be stuck out there hoping she doesn’t get in an accident or get a serious illness.”

Similar protests were held in other U.S. cities over the weekend, trying to gather support against repealing-and-replacing Obamacare. Organizers hope constituents will start contacting their elected officials as well.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.