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State senators urge House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to 'abandon the political rhetoric' on Obamacare

State Sen. Ed Hernandez speaks at a rally at Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
State Sen. Ed Hernandez speaks at a rally at Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

When House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy asked top political figures across the country for input on how to replace the Affordable Care Act, it seemed unlikely that officials in California, a state that has enthusiastically adopted the healthcare law, would eagerly brainstorm on a potential repeal.

Sure enough, top Democrats in the state Senate — President Pro Tem Kevin de León of Los Angeles and Health Committee Chairman Ed Hernández of West Covina — responded this week with a grim take on congressional Republicans' efforts to unwind Obamacare.

"Moving forward with a plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) before developing a substantive replacement would be counterproductive and result in harming the people we all represent," the two Democrats wrote in a letter to McCarthy dated Jan. 9 .

The letter warned that repealing Obamacare would lead to increased financial burdens to hospitals that would be the primary source of emergency medical treatment for the uninsured. It also raised the possibility of job losses in the healthcare sector, singling out thousands of potential losses in Kern and Tulare counties, which McCarthy represents.

"We urge you to abandon the political rhetoric about repealing the ACA, and contemplate and assess the real impact such an action would have on the real lives of our most vulnerable constituents," the senators wrote.

While urging that Obamacare be kept in place, the senators did endorse the notion of some tweaks. They noted that any changes to existing law should ensure that people continue to receive benefits that are as comprehensive as those they currently receive, lower premiums and cost-sharing, and avoid increasing costs to the state.

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