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After Trump victory, Obamacare has an uncertain future

Will the Affordable Care Act become history under the Trump Administration? Republicans want to see it go or replaced with something else.

But some people, like Harriet Prudhomme, worry about what’s going to happen if it does.  

Prudhomme is checking in at the Neighborcare Clinic in Rainier Beach. She’s been having severe jaw pain, partly from grinding her teeth. Prudhomme’s already anxious about her upcoming dental procedure. But she’s also worried about losing her Medicaid coverage.

“Poor people get shortchanged every single time there’s a problem,” she said. “And for Donald Trump to say he’s going to take that away — this is the first time I’m able to go to a dentist and have something done.”

Prudhomme is one of the 600,000 Washington residents who got health coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

Under the law people with pre-existing conditions can’t be denied coverage. It also paved the way for states like Washington to expand Medicaid to include adults with limited income or people like Prudhomme, who’s on disability.

“Obamacare may not be perfect, but at least people are getting health care,” she said.

The ACA has reduced the number of uninsured in Washington state. But there are still people without coverage, said Neighborcare executive director Michael Erikson.

The state uninsured rate is 7.3 percent, but 26 percent of the patients Neighborcare Health clinics serve are uninsured. 

He worries that rolling back the law would be a setback in further reducing the number of uninsured people.

“What’s keeping me up is how are we going to solve those problems,” he said. “Problems don’t go away because you repeal financing. We still have people with health care needs.”

Erikson said he hopes the state will continue to do its part in providing access to care. 

Correction 11/10/16: A previous version of this story stated the incorrect percentage of people uninsured in Washington. The correct number is 7.3 percent, according to the Office of Insurance Commissioner. 

Year started with KUOW: 1994