Legislators seek to preserve key provisions of Obamacare in state law

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - One of President-elect Donald Trump's campaign promises was to repeal and replace Obamacare.

What's not clear is how he'll do that.

But whatever happens, the pledge to do away with the Affordable Care Act has Hawaii lawmakers working on a plan "B."

Hawaii was the first state in the country to require employers to provide health insurance.

But Obamacare came with added benefits: Insurers can't turn away anyone based on a pre-existing condition and young adults can stay on their parents' plans until they're 26.

Hawaii legislators say those benefits are in jeopardy with the Republican plan to repeal.

"The path they're on is to repeal the law, totally, root and branch and replace it with something and they haven't figured it out what that's going to be. It's going to cause chaos for people and the health care system," said U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii.

That's why state legislators are working on a back-up plan to protect the essential Obamacare benefits.

"That means introducing legislation to make sure that all of those provisions are statutorily required by anybody that sells health care insurance in Hawaii," said state Sen. Roz Baker, who chairs the Senate's Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health.

Most of the plans under Hawaii's Pre-Paid Health Care Act of 1974 already have many of Obamacare's provisions, but lawmakers -- and Hawaii's Congressional Delegation --- say they want to make sure private plans as well as Medicaid plans also have them.

"Doesn't matter what part of the state you live in, doesn't matter who your health care provider is, doesn't matter what kind of health plan you have, you're going to be afforded those basic important health benefits," Baker said.

Schatz added, "The politics that surround the Affordable Care Act was that Republicans never considered anything within it that should be preserved. And now I think they got to be grown-ups and take what is working in ACA, which is probably 85 percent of it, and keep it."

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