Students fear new healthcare

By Keith Hernandez

DeKALB — Since the beginning of President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, “repeal” has been met with anger by some NIU students who have grown to rely on provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and “replace” has been met with anxiety.

English graduate student Kelsey Williams said the ACA was a lifesaver for her and her mother.

Williams’s mother has a rare, incurable autoimmune and degenerative muscle disease known as sporadic inclusion body myositis, and Williams has two chronic pain conditions. With an income of under $15,000 a year, she said she doesn’t know what they would do without insurance.

“So with pre-existing conditions and almost no money, without the ACA, I can’t live comfortably, and she can’t live at all,” Williams said.

Likewise, Jen Justice, digital rhetoric graduate student, said her health would be at risk if she could no longer afford doctor checkups.

Justice is seven years cancer-free but has to receive frequent examinations because there is an 80 percent chance the cancer will return.

“I saw those bills before insurance covered them,” Justice said. “They’re terrifying.”

The words “repeal” and “replace,” staples of Trump’s campaign, were met with both the loudest applause and boos of Trump’s address to Congress Tuesday night.

The repeal started before Trump’s inauguration when the Senate approved a blueprint budget Jan. 11 that would effectively end the ACA.

Though there are a few potential plans that have come to light, the “replace” has yet to begin.

“Action is not a choice; it is a necessity,” Trump said Tuesday. “So I am calling on all Democrats and Republicans to work with us to save Americans from this imploding Obamacare disaster.”

Under-26 provision

While Trump said parts of the ACA will be adopted Tuesday night, such as coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, he did not say what will happen to a provision that would allow people under 26 to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans.

One indication of what is to come regarding the under-26 provision is a Senate vote that occurred soon before the blueprint budget was passed in which Senate Republicans struck down an amendment to keep the provision.

Unmarried Illinoisans under 26 would not be affected by the provision’s repeal, however, because Illinois is one of at least 31 states that allowed young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance before the ACA was implemented, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

NIU students who are from states without this pre-existing legislation and are under their parents’ plans would be most affected by the repeal of the provision.

Electronic health records

Another provision that may be repealed that would adversely affect NIU students who live far from the University is a mandate that requires doctors to digitalize health records, said James Ciesla, associate dean for research and resources at the NIU College of Health and Human Sciences.

“The biggest benefit from electronic health records is when you’re getting care away from your doctor, so if somebody’s on electronic health records, they can look up what their last services are [and] the names of their current medications they’re on,” Ciesla said.

Income-based tax credits

Among the principles the Affordable Care Act replacement would adhere to is helping Americans pay for their insurance through the use of age-based tax credits as opposed to the ACA’s income-based tax credits, Trump said during the address.

Under three potential replacement plans, average health insurance tax credits would decrease by more than $1,000 for 27-year-old Americans who make $20,000 per year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Keith Hernandez is a staff writer. He can be reached at

 Correction: The original story mistakenly said English graduate student Kelsey Williams had an income of less than $50,000 a year when the amount is less than $15,000.