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Ripping out the rug: Students weigh in on the possible death of Obamacare

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Students and their families’ healthcare hang in the balance as Obamacare’s future grows uncertain.
Photo by Alexander Bissell / Cuestonian, Graphic work by Taylor Saugstad / Cuestonian


Also from the Cuestonian: Potential repeal of Obamacare puts brother of Cuesta student at risk

By Lindsay Darbyshire
Features Editor

First-year engineering student Dustin Eckert is worried he will not have access to any medical care if Obamacare is repealed, as promised by the Trump administration.

Eckert, who is living on his own for the first time, said he simply wouldn’t be able to afford private insurance — and that he has no clue what he will do if he becomes ill or injured.

“I would have to stop going to the doctors, dentists, and optometrists,” Eckert said. “I would have to avoid medical care because the bills would be too devastating.”

Eckert is one of approximately 11.4 million people who have enrolled in Obamacare as of 2017, according to news reports. It is estimated that 18 million people nationwide will be left uninsured during the first year after the enactment, with another 32 million by 2026 — many of whom have chronic illnesses and even children to care for — according to a study highlighted by CNN.

Eckert currently pays for his medical bills through Medi-Cal, a low-cost health care program for low-income people, slated to be severely slashed as well.

The numbers of Cuesta students who are recipients of Obamacare are unknown, officials said.

However, a recent Cuestonian poll of whether or not students would be affected by the discontinuation of Obamacare showed that around 29 percent of 42 polled students said that they would be affected. Out of 25 students, 48 percent were on their parent’s work insurance, while another 48 percent had Medi-Cal or Obamacare. The last four percent had private insurance.

Savanah Hatcher, who has been attending Cuesta since 2014, said that her brother, who struggles with schizophrenia, would have no access to his medication if Obamacare was discontinued.

“When people don’t have access to healthcare when they have mental disabilities, it creates a spiral,” said Hatcher, who is majoring in communications.

Hatcher’s brother, who has been in and out of jail due to substance abuse, would be left with no options. Hatcher’s family would not have the ability to pay for his medication, and Hatcher is worried of what might happen if her brother didn’t have it.

“He’ll die without [the medication.] He’ll either drink himself to death or overdose. He’s either going to kill himself or die,” Hatcher said.

The U.S. Senate attempted to pass a “skinny repeal” of Obamacare — which would do away with the directive that Americans must have health insurance and cut the tax on medical-device manufacturers, according to news reports. The repeal failed by a 49 – 51 vote by the Senate.

The latest repeal attempt, created by Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Bill Cassidy, was not voted on by Senate Republicans because three GOP lawmakers promised to vote against it, which would exceed the limit of two defections to halt the bill, according to CNBC.

As of Oct.12, President Donald Trump plans to abolish Obamacare subsidies that helped lower-income people pay for health care, according to CNN.

This could pose trouble for fourth year Communications student, Devon Lindley, who said that both his father and him would have to pay out-of-pocket for all of their medical services if Obamacare were to be repealed.

“If I didn’t have Obamacare, I wouldn’t have insurance at all,” said Lindley.

English student Peggy Riley, who has been attending Cuesta on and off since 2013, is “on the fence” regarding the discontinuation of Obamacare.

“In one sense, I think socialized medicine is not a wise choice given it can actually prohibit people from getting the help they need…Also, it is limited in what is actually covered and a lot of our medical expenses have to be paid out of pocket,” Riley said.

On the other hand, Riley says she is thankful for the coverage of Obamacare since her mother has had extensive health complications over the past two years. Doctors discovered, after removing Riley’s mother’s thyroid, that she had cancer.

“It was a difficult time and given that if we hadn’t had some kind of medical coverage, my mom may not have been healthy or living today,” Riley said. “I am obviously glad we did have Obamacare.”

For Riley, her future remains stable, with or without Obamacare, she says. Riley’s mother, who is now healthy, has begun working again.

Eckert believes that there are alternatives to the discontinuation of Obamacare and that is useful for a large part of the U.S. population.

“If Obamacare was repealed, Medi-Cal would suffer a huge blow and may not be able to continue providing healthcare to those who can’t afford other means of receiving care,” Eckert said. “Obamacare is a useful tool for those who are low income and working hard to improve their situation.”