Despite the bill’s downfall, challenges remain in Illinois and across the U.S. when it comes to health insurance, they said.
“We can stop and take a breath and regroup, (but) I wouldn’t say celebrate because I don’t think the work is over,” said John Peller, president and CEO of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. “I think everyone agrees, Republicans and Democrats alike, that the Affordable Care Act as it stands now is far from perfect and needs improvement.”
The U.S. House of Representatives had been scheduled to vote Friday afternoon on the American Health Care Act, a bill that would have repealed and replaced large swaths of Obamacare. House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump agreed to pull the bill at the last minute because they didn’t have enough votes to pass it.
Obamacare will remain in place for the “forseeable future,” Ryan said Friday.
Illinois’ hospital community was pleased by the turn of events, having warned that the state could lose $40 billion over the next 10 years in federal Medicaid expansion funding, among other losses.
Starting in 2020, the bill would have effectively frozen Medicaid expansion, a program under which about 650,000 Illinois residents are covered. It also would have changed the way traditional Medicaid is funded. In all, Medicaid covers more than 3 million Illinois residents.
The bill would also have repealed Obamacare’s requirement that everyone have health insurance or pay a penalty.
Hospitals feared the bill would have led to fewer people with health insurance in Illinois, putting consumers’ health at risk and forcing hospitals to eat the costs of caring for more uninsured patients.