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Even As Congress Moves To Repeal Obamacare, Area Marketplace Enrollment Remains Robust

Wyandotte County civic and government leaders are calling on the Kansas congressional delegation to oppose repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

A statement from Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Mark Holland says Obamacare is working, and repealing it would leave 6,000 Wyandotte County residents without health coverage.

“The time and energy our community invested in taking full advantage of this law must now be used to protect it,” Mayor Holland said. “There is too much at stake.”

Despite growing momentum among Republicans to do away with it, enrollment in the federal health insurance marketplace is stronger than ever. A new federal report says almost 96,000 Kansans have signed up for coverage this year. That’s up from about 86,000 last year. In Missouri, enrollment so far is lower than last year, but still close to 250,000.

The new report also finds that more than 11.5 million people nationwide were signed up for marketplace coverage as of December 24, an increase of 286,000 plan selections compared with the same period last year.

“Nationwide demand for health coverage is higher than ever, as Americans prove again that marketplace coverage is vital to them and their families,” U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in a statement. 

HHS says that growing demand for marketplace coverage belies predictions that 2017 premiums changes would lead to sharp declines in enrollment and a so-called “death spiral”  -- a notion also debunked in a report by the Council of Economic Advisors.

The Senate, by a vote of 51-48, approved a budget blueprint early Thursday morning that sets the stage for an eventual repeal of Obamacare by a simple majority. Kansas Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran both voted in favor of the blueprint. In a statement, Moran called it an opportunity to begin repairing the damage he said Obamacare had caused.

“I will work with my colleagues – Republicans and Democrats alike – to swiftly come together, offer real reforms to lower costs and improve the quality of healthcare, and ensure there is no lapse in care,” Moran said.

Roberts in a statement vowed to use his position on two key Senate committees to work “toward a more affordable system where health care decisions are made by patients and their doctors.”

“I will fight to ensure patients and providers are left with a system that make (sic) sense and improves access to care for all Americans,” Roberts said.

Missouri Senator Roy Blunt voted with the majority, as did all Republicans except Kentucky’s Rand Paul. All Democrats opposed the measure, including Missouri’s Claire McCaskill.

Bryan Thompson is a reporter for KCUR’s Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio and KMUW covering health, education and politics in Kansas.

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