An outpatient clinic room is shown on Wednesday, October 25, 2017, at the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
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An outpatient clinic room is shown on Wednesday, October 25, 2017, at the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

What repealing Obamacare would mean for Washington state

More than 800,000 people in Washington state get health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

They stand to lose that coverage if the law is repealed, as the Trump Administration wants to do. The U.S. Justice Department, in a court filing Monday, said it wants the entire health care law struck down.

Repealing the ACA, otherwise known as Obamacare, would take the U.S. back to its health care system from nine years ago.

Aaron Katz, a principal lecturer at the University of Washington School of Public Health, said that would favor no one but insurance companies. He said not only would many people not have access to health insurance, but people with pre-existing conditions would be hit hard.

"Before the Affordable Care Act... insurance companies could tell you 'well if you have a heart condition we'll insure everything about you except for your heart,'' he said. "We would go back to the days when insurance companies had leeway to discriminate against people because of their health."

Most of the ACA is still in place, but federal courts are reviewing whether to strike it down. Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler expects the law to be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court some time in 2020.

Meanwhile, Washington state lawmakers are debating whether to create a state-run insurance system.

That system, which would be publicly funded, has been approved by both the state House and Senate in the current legislative session. Both chambers are working now to find compromise on their similar, but separate, proposals.