Local practice talks importance of health care in small-town Kentucky

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EDMONTON, Ky. (WBKO) -- Angela Jessie says a number of her patients at FH&L Family Practice were insured for the first time under the Affordable Care Act, and now they fear they might lose it.

This week marks seven years since the bill that would become known as Obamacare was signed into law.

Jessie, an Advance Practice Registered Nurse based in Edmonton, KY, says she's seen an influx of new patients from the community walk into her family practice over the years.

"When we first started getting those people they had lots of health issues, that have just not been addressed because they couldn't afford the insurance," she says. "They got healthy, and now they're going to lose the very thing that allowed them to get healthy."

The Congressional Budget Office, a non-partisan group, projected that 14 million Americans would lose health care coverage next year under the proposed American Health Care Act and that 24 more million Americans in total than that are covered now could lose coverage by 2026.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Sunday that those numbers are misleading.

"We're going let people buy what they want to buy," he said. "We're going to have more plans being offered, more choice and competition, and this is before Tom Price [United States Secretary of Health and Human Services] does anything to deregulate the marketplace to bring more competition and to lower prices, which the CBO could not and did not analyze."

Angela Jessie says in an area like Metcalfe County, the ACA has changed lives.

"The smaller, poorer families who didn't have the health care before... were then able to use what resources they had to get better housing, to be able to afford clothing," she goes on.

"The population here for the most part, they're a large Medicaid population and their resources are limited," she explains. "They were having to choose between buying my medicine or buying food."

Paul Ryan said Sunday that widespread health care coverage is vital in this country, and that's what they're working toward.

"I do believe this is a critical need for Americans," he said.

"I do believe that we can have in this country a health care system for everyone can get access to affordable health care coverage, including people with pre-existing conditions," he went on. "I believe that that is
achievable. I believe that that is what we are achieving in this legislation.

While congress tries to settle on a new plan, Angela Jessie just hopes they land on something to keep her neighbors healthy.

"While they say they can't refuse you for pre-existing conditions, it doesn't say we can't charge you more," she says, "which is just as good as taking it. We're hoping we can keep some of that and keep the sickest people from getting sicker."

While projecting a major loss in health care coverage, the CBO report also projected savings of over $880 billion in Medicaid over a ten year period.

The Republicans will look to repeal and replace the ACA on Thursday.

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