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Tuesday, November 25, 2014         

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Democrats warn of harm if health care reform is repealed

The U.S. House will probably pass the repeal, but Senate opposition is expected

By Rosemarie Bernardo

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Repealing President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law could affect approximately half of the state's population because they have pre-existing medical conditions, the Democratic Party of Hawaii said at a news briefing yesterday.

State Democratic Chairman Dante Carpenter made the comment as the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives began debate on an effort to repeal the new law.

Dylan Nonaka, executive director of the Republican Party of Hawaii, said Carpenter's estimate sounds like a scare tactic.

In Washington the House GOP is expected to pass the repeal easily, although it is not likely to advance in the Senate.

Democrats increasingly see more value in promoting the new law amid GOP calls for repeal.

A new Associated Press-GfK poll this week showed just 1 in 4 Americans support full repeal, while a CNN/Opinion Research poll said 50 percent support the repeal vote and 42 percent do not. Unlike CNN, the AP poll gave respondents the option of saying they would like the law changed, a choice favored by 43 percent.

Nonaka said two provisions involving health coverage for young adults and individuals with pre-existing conditions are reasonable parts of the legislation Republicans can agree with. Still, they remain opposed to the law, which he said is essentially a government takeover of the health care industry.

Sen. Sam Slom, the lone Republican in the state Senate, said he supports repealing the law and methodically looking at each measure in the 950-plus-page bill. "There's no question that this bill was rushed and very few have read it," he said.

At the Democrats' news briefing yesterday, 24-year-old Jason Kamalu said he has health coverage for the first time in six years under his parents' plan because of the reform law, lessening his worry over accruing out-of-pocket medical expenses should he injure himself while surfing. "I don't have this stress in my life that I'm not covered," said Kamalu.

A provision under the new law allows young adults to stay on their parents' plans until age 26. The law does not apply to young adults who are offered insurance at work, according to a government website, HealthCare.gov, which is managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"It's a tremendous relief. I can only hope that they're unsuccessful in repealing it," said Kamalu.

Under the act, Americans with pre-existing conditions such as asthma, cancer and high blood pressure can get health coverage, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The department further stated that 1 in 2 nonelderly Americans with a pre-existing condition could be denied coverage or charged more without the protective measures in the health care reform act.

The Chicago Tribune contributed to this report.





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