King County Executive Dow Constantine said he’ll fight to keep affordable health care for people currently covered under Obamacare.
Constantine held a news conference with Public Health officials, local providers and patients three days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that begins the processes of rolling back the Affordable Care Act.
In Washington state more than half a million people have accessed care through the program.
Constantine said 200,000 people in King County have accessed insurance. He told reporters the ACA has helped cut the country’s uninsured rate by half since 2013.
He said the program helped lower-income, part-time workers, young adults and especially people of color. “Before the ACA fully one quarter of African American residents in this county were uninsured. Today it’s fewer than one in 10,” Constantine said.
Without a suitable replacement for the ACA, Constantine said people could lose access to mental health, routine and preventative care.
“The moves taken by the president and the Republican Congress will have real consequences for real people. They could make our nation sicker and poorer and even more fractured," Constantine said.
Amy Knickrehm, 40, of Seattle told reporters that her chronic pain and depression went undiagnosed for years because she had no health care. She's been insured under the ACA for three years.
“I’m finally getting physical therapy and the medication regimen that I need. The ACA is imperfect, but with it I have a fighting chance of making an independent life for myself," Knickrehm told reporters.
While Constantine and Public Health Officials are committed to protecting access to care, right now Constantine said there's no plan. "We don’t know what they’re going to do so we don’t know what steps we need to protect our people," he said.
Constantine said until the Congress makes its move, it’s unclear what steps the county needs to take to maintain current access to health care.