LA County looks at planning for possible Obamacare repeal

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Under consideration by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday: hiring a consultant who would craft a transition plan if Obamacare is scrapped.

The county wants to be ready as the U.S. Senate considers its steps on a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The House passed the American Health Care Act, which would make significant changes to the nation's health care, early this month.

The L.A. County Chief Executive Office recommends the board reinstate retired health policy adviser Fred Leaf as a temporary hire. If the board approves the motion, Leaf would help develop the county’s position and plan to move forward in the event Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act.

"We need to have a coordinated strategy moving forward to be able to handle whatever it is that happens," said Dr. Christine Ghaly, chief operations officer for the Department of Health Services.

Her department alone could lose $900 million in funding if the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare is eliminated, she said. The county departments of mental and public health also stand to lose millions in federal funding.

"We take the bill very seriously. However, I don’t anticipate that the Senate will pass the same bill," said Dr. Ghaly.

Prior to retirement, Leaf worked with the L.A. County health care system for 45 years — including as deputy director of health services and as a senior health policy adviser to the board.

"Mr. Leaf's proven knowledge and expertise in this area are of vital importance to ensure the County's health care plans and system remain fundamentally sound and sustainable," wrote Sachi Hamai, L.A. County chief executive officer, in a letter to the board.

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