Despite actions by Congressional Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, District residents are expressing support for the maintenance of Obamacare and suspicious of Republicans attempts to repeal it. All the members of the D.C. Council and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) are in favor of keeping the main structure of Obamacare in place.

That doesn’t mean that some residents haven’t had difficulties with the program. “I have been on Obamacare for about a month now, but I have had trouble in the past,” Xavier Hodge, church administrator for Capitol Hill United Methodist Church in Southeast D.C., told the AFRO. “I don’t pay for my premiums now; an organization does it for me.”

Xavier Hodge, the church administrator for Capitol Hill United Methodist Church said that he has had problems with ACA, but the solution is fixing it, not repealing it. (Courtesy Photo)

Hodge said when Obamacare was activated in the District in 2012, he participated but dropped out of it two months later. “I couldn’t pay the premiums,” he said.

Hodges said that when open enrollment has been available since then, he participated but had to drop out each year because of the high costs of premiums.

Hodges said his trouble with Obamacare doesn’t mean the program should be repealed. “What the Republicans need to do is fix it, not get rid of it,” he said.

Republicans have tried twice to replace the healthcare program with what is known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The first attempt to replace Obamacare was unsuccessful, but Republicans have put out another version of their plan for a vote before the end of the legislative session. As of March 3, support for the Republican replacement strengthened.

District residents enroll in Obamacare through the D.C. Health Link and it has been recognized as a success. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis, DC Health Link enrolled 74 percent of eligible residents as of Feb. 1, 2016.

This is much higher than the 46 percent national average and the National Center for Health Statistics reports that the District attained an uninsured rate of just 3.7 percent in 2016, which ties it with Wisconsin for the third-lowest rate in the country.

Johnny Blake, a vendor selling hats and clothes in a small booth on Pennsylvania Avenue, told the AFRO he is covered by Obamacare in the District and likes it. “Obamacare has helped a lot of people get health insurance,” he said. “It helps people stay healthy and it keeps costs down. Obamacare has helped the disabled, elderly, and young people get insurance.”

Blake suggested Congress “should keep it around” and said repeal efforts are suspect. “I think repeal is just plain politics,” he said. “I also think that repeal may be to benefit somebody else financially.”

Andre Resende-Gomes, newly employed in commission sales, told the AFRO he is confused about Obamacare. “I was advised to get insurance but I don’t know where to go,” he said. “I was told by somebody to go to Malcolm X Boulevard and sign up but I don’t have transportation to go there and even if I did I wouldn’t know where to go.”

He said the District’s system seems to be different and that is why he is perplexed. He agrees that Obamacare shouldn’t be repealed. “If the Congress reforms health care, it should be so that it helps everyone,” Resende-Gomes said.