Watch/Listen: Staff attorneys for House Dems & GOP testify on evidence for impeachment

Listen on WHYY-FM, watch on WHYY-TV or stream online.

Obamacare proponents urge residents to sign up despite repeal effort

Renee Cardwell Hughes of the American Red Cross says blood is needed along with cash donations fro those suffering in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Renee Cardwell Hughes of the American Red Cross says blood is needed along with cash donations fro those suffering in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. (Tom MacDonald/ WHYY)

The clock may be ticking on the Affordable Care Act — otherwise known as “Obamacare” — but proponents are still encouraging people to sign up for health coverage before open enrollment ends on Jan. 31.

President-elect Donald Trump and the new, Republican-controlled Congress have been taking steps to repeal the program, but advocates like Antoinette Kraus with the Pennsylvania Health Access Network say that is no reason for people not to enroll.

In fact, she claims the uncertain future of the ACA is as good a reason as any. 

“We think folks will have coverage for at least a year,” Kraus said. “Because of the uncertainty, it’s better to have coverage even if it’s for a short period of time than to gamble with your health and your finances and to not have coverage at all.”

Democratic lawmakers also see a political benefit to getting more people signed up during what could be the program’s final open enrollment period.

Pennsylvania state Sen. Vincent Hughes thinks it sends a message to Republicans “that people want this,” he said at a press conference he called at Philadelphia City Hall Friday morning. 

“This has had a huge impact for everyone across the board,” Hughes said. “Is it perfect? No. But you don’t throw the whole baby out with the bathwater. You take what you have and use it as a foundation to make the improvements.”

Hughes and others, including Democratic state Reps. Mary Jo Daley and Jim Roebuck, pointed to the millions of Pennsylvanians impacted by the healthcare law, including 5.5 million with pre-existing conditions have received coverage through the the Healthcare.gov online marketplace and 89,000 young adults 26 or younger who remained on their parents’s health insurance plans.

A recent federal report found a spike in the number of people in Pennsylvania and New Jersey who’ve enrolled, despite higher prices and fewer options to choose from as insurance providers drop out. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 400,000 Pennsylvanians have signed up for a plan through the Affordable Care Act since November and more than 270,000 in New Jersey. 

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.