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Covered CA executive director, health policy experts answer questions about future of state healthcare exchange, Affordable Care Act

Posters about Obamacare are posted on a window during a healthcare enrollment fair at the Bay Area Rescue Mission.
Posters about Obamacare are posted on a window during a healthcare enrollment fair at the Bay Area Rescue Mission.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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California has a lot to lose if President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican-led Congress fulfill their campaign pledge to repeal Obamacare.

The Golden State fully embraced the Affordable Care Act by expanding Medicaid coverage for the poor and creating its own health insurance exchange for about 1.4 million enrollees. Supporters held California up as proof the health law could work as intended.

But now President Barack Obama’s signature law is in serious jeopardy and California officials are left wondering what Republicans in Washington may put in its place.

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Peter Lee, the executive director for Covered California, told AirTalk that it was important for those fearful of Obamacare's potential to be repealed to focus on the present, as it is too early to predict what exactly will take place in the years to come.

"We’re focused on the here and now. We’re in open enrollment, people are renewing their coverage and they should be looking at renewing. For 2017, that coverage is there, it’s intact, the financial assistance is there and intact, the rates aren’t changing for 2017," he said. "Before we jump into the morass of what repeal and replace look like, Californians should know that in the here and now, sign up for coverage. Make sure you don’t go without insurance."

Lee also told AirTalk that it was important for the state to keep making its presence felt politically.

"California has been in Washington, and we need to keep being in Washington. We’ve been speaking since Day 1 with both sides of the aisle," he said. "We've said as a state for two years, let's put the politics behind us and provide subsidies for those who really need it, create a competitive marketplace, have a benefit design where in California, the deductible isn't in between you and your primary care doctor. Those are important lessons." 


Peter Lee, executive director for Covered California

Kavita K. Patel, Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution; she’s also a practicing primary care physician at Johns Hopkins Medicine and was previously a Director of Policy for The White House under President Obama

Yevgeniy Feyman, adjunct fellow and deputy director of the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Medical Progress