Talking with North Country Public Radio

Last January I was invited to talk with North Country Public Radio about my coverage of healthcare in the north country, and potential impacts of repealing the Affordable Care Act. I had a lovely conversation with Brian Mann, who interviewed me and wrote and produced the following pieces.

To listen to the interview, please follow this link to the North County Public Radio website: www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/story/33266/20170124/north-country-healthcare-leaders-frightened-as-obamacare-repeal-nears

By Brian Mann

Jan 24, 2017 — When Watertown Daily Times reporter Jen Jackson talked with healthcare leaders in Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Lewis and Oswego counties, she found a lot of fear and uncertainty. The concern, detailed in a lengthy article published earlier this month, is that Republicans led by President Donald Trump will repeal the Affordable Care Act without offering a comprehensive policy to replace it.

It's not just that tens of thousands of people across the North Country could lose insurance. It's also sweeping changes that could come to insurance laws that protected all consumers.  

It could be everyone

"It could be everyone if we lose the parts of the Affordable Care Act that mandate insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, to provide preventative care without co-pays. That is at risk if we repeal the ACA," Jackson said in an interview with NCPR. "This could mean that insurance companies could go back to charging women and people over the age of 40 more. It could affect how mental health is covered. Everything from prescriptions to mental health coverage."

That means sweeping new uncertainty for average people, but Jackson's reporting found that the North Country's healthcare industry — including the counties that often pay for care — also faces unprecedented risk. They could lose millions of dollars in subsidies from the Federal government.

Risk and the potential for chaos in the North Country's biggest industry

"The biggest thing on their minds with that funding is the uncertainty. They base so much of their yearly budget and their day-to-day operations on the understanding that they will receive a certain amount of support. But with Congress moving forward on a repeal without having a replacement plan [health care providers] have nothing they can base those future projections on."

Jackson's article featured an interview with Carthage Area Hospital chief financial officer Robert Bloom. "A complete repeal without an alternative in place would absolutely create chaos," he said. “Without a well thought-out plan it will be a disaster.”

Jen JacksonComment