Local healthcare leaders warned of job cuts and soaring hospital costs Sunday if the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," is repealed.
"This will lead to costly delays in diagnosis and treatment, and if there is no bridge between the repeal and replace process, people will be pushed off the healthcare cliff," said Dr. Akram Boutros of the MetroHealth System.
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted the roundtable discussion which included doctors and representatives from MetroHealth Medical Center, University Hospitals, St. Vincent Charity Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic. It also included local consumers who receive coverage through the Affordable Care Act.
"I'll have to make a choice, do I pay for health coverage or do I pay my mortgage," questioned Joanne Davis who said she has a pre-existing health condition and cannot get insurance through her job. "I don't want to be put in that position at the same time I'm trying to raise a child."
Both the House and Senate passed a budget last week that paves the way to gut the healthcare law.
Brown said an estimated 900,000 Ohioans would lose health insurance coverage if the law is repealed. Policy Matters Ohio, a non-profit, non-partisan research institute, estimates the repeal would add $15 billion in costs to Ohio hospitals and drain $3.5 billion from the upcoming state budget.
"I'm optimistic now that we can preserve much or almost all of this [the Affordable Care Act] because people are talking to their members of Congress and speaking out," said Brown.
News 5 reached out to Senator Rob Portman (R- OH) for comment on Brown's roundtable but have not heard back.