With White House on sidelines, Dems and health care allies urge ACA sign-up

Nevada Democrat, Rep. Ruben Kihuen, along with others, stood in front of a Las Vegas clinic Monday to help get out the word: sign up for the Affordable Care Act. (KSNV)

It's a little TV break for Ivon Meneses and her son, Jacob, as they sit on the couch watching television.

“My son, that one suffer asthma and his treatments, they were all covered by Obamacare,” the mom told me as we stood in her Las Vegas living room.

Jacob's the one with asthma. Another of her sons is autistic. So what does the ACA mean to her?

“A lot, because we took advantage of it. My son suffers from autism and it covers a lot of his therapies,” Meneses says.

She's one of the 89,000 Nevadans who signed up for the Affordable Care Act last year. And she's one of the Nevadans -- we don't know how many yet -- who will sign up for it again this year. Enrollment opens Wednesday and runs through Dec. 15.

And what a difference a year makes; this White House wants to scrap the ACA. It's not making open enrollment a priority, cutting the sign-up period in half, which is why Nevada Democrat, Rep. Ruben Kihuen, along with others, stood in front of a Las Vegas clinic Monday to help get out the word: sign up.

“What's important to note is the ACA is the law of the land,” Kihuen told me.

At least so far.

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At this free clinic on MLK, twice a week, they help people enroll. I asked its medical director, Rebecca Edgeworth, what kind of questions they get.

“Well, people think that it is very expensive, which is not necessarily the case. People think it’s hard to sign up, They think there’s a lot of paperwork that needs to be procured,” says Edgeworth, who works with Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada.

Monday’s sign-up event took place at its Ruffin Family Clinic.

But this year, Nevada has fewer ACA options; only two companies will offer coverage on our ACA exchange. One is new, and the other, Health Plan of Nevada, is raising rates 37-percent. Proof, Republicans say, that premiums are out-of-reach of many people.

Two weeks ago, President Trump ended the ACA cost-sharing subsidies that shielded many low-income people from premium sticker shock. Nevada Health Link, our state’s gateway to the Affordable Care Act, says our two carriers factored a phase-out into their premiums and, as a result, minimized disruption to the market.

Enrollment begins as the ACA's future remains unclear; Repeal stalled in the Senate this summer.

And Congressman Kihuen hopes Republicans just give up.

“So I believe that instead of repealing the ACA without having a replacement, that we fix it,” the Congressman says.

That may or may not happen, for a health plan that may or may not have a future.

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