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Atlantans protest Affordable Care Act repeal

Senator Vincent Fort addresses crowd during the Atlanta March for Healthcare Photo by Dayne Francis | The Signal

On Feb. 25, hundreds of Atlantans took to the streets to protest the government’s threats of repealing the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

“We’re here to send a message to the city of Atlanta, to the state of Georgia and to the entire nation, keep your hands off our healthcare,” Attorney Gerald Griggs, co-organizer of the march said.

Griggs said they’ve been trying to meet with senators for five weeks and they have refused to meet “with the people”.

URGE Abortion

Effective March 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a health care statute created by former President Barack Obama that serves to reduce the uninsured population by providing higher quality and more affordable healthcare.

Included in this statute is the “Prevention and Public Health Fund”, which according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) provides about $20 million in funding for a variety of Georgia projects and research institutes, including the Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Morehouse School of Medicine and Georgia State.

CDC’s Director of Asset Management Services Jeff Williams said one of the unattended consequences of repealing the ACA is the slashing of funding to state and local public health offices indirectly through grant funding via the CDC.

“The CDC serves as a sort of ‘passthrough’ for federal funding for state and local recipients for a number of activities the health and public prevention initiative supports,” Williams said. “These initiatives are seldom considered when politicians look to repeal legislation.”

And besides research funding, employees could be at risk, according to Williams.

Wake Forest University

“Jobs and equipment could definitely be affected,” Williams said. “Many do not know that the federal Prevention and Public Health Fund helps pay salaries for public health experts and equipment for public [college] health labs.”

While the funding of public health offices could be affected by the repealing of Obamacare, Georgia’s public institutions could take a hit.

STUDENTS AFFECTED

As reported by the AJC, the Prevention and Public Health Fund actively aids Georgia State’s School of Public Health as it conducts research with both Dekalb and Fulton counties, costing a total of $900,000.

According to the National REACH (Race and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health) Coalition, Georgia State’s School of Public Health and Morehouse School of Medicine’s Prevention Research Center obtained a $400,000 REACH grant from the CDC to combat and reduce the rates of diabetes and heart disease in impoverished neighborhoods.

Lee Rivers Mobley, associate professor at the school of Public Health, said that Georgia State may only be minimally affected by the repeal.

“The state system maintains its own self-insured risk-pool administered by third parties,” Mobley said. “Because of that, we may only be minimally affected by requirements under the ACA.”

The elimination of the ACA could ultimately affect public research institute funding, but it could also affect students’ health care.

“Georgia State students could possibly be affected if the ACA provision that covers young people until age 26 on their parents’ plan is removed,” Mobley said. “People that will be directly affected will be the millions who have been relying on state or federal exchanges to buy group insurance outside of any employee or workplace plan.”

According to the New York Times, insurance provider Humana has decided to withdraw from Georgia’s insurance exchange and will not offer health insurance under the federal law. As professor Mobley said, if the healthcare act is repealed, it could affect those who have insurance outside of the workplace and students who are currently on their parents’ insurance plans.

For Georgia State student Kristy Guilbault, healthcare is a right that everyone should have access to.

“It has no direct impact on me, since I’m insured through my parents’ employers,” Guilbault said. “But as someone who aligns my ideologies heavily with liberalism, I am definitely opposed to the act being repeal. Everyone deserves equal and affordable healthcare.”

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