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Repealing Obamacare Could Have Repercussions in the Sports World

22 Mar, 2017

By: Michael Popke

For a few days in North Carolina last month, it was possible lawmakers would pass a bill that allowed parents — and not physicians — to determine whether it was safe for their young athlete to return to play. Current state law requires a medical professional to make that decision.

A few days later, after outcry from an alarmed public and heavy national criticism, one of the bill’s sponsors told local media outlets that the controversial language giving parents the authority to potentially put their son or daughter in harm’s way would be removed.

Republican Rep. Greg Murphy, a physician and supporter of the measure, said the language granting parents previously unheard of decision-making power was unintentional. “That’s going to be changed,” Murphy told USA Today. “It’s not necessary, because I don’t believe parents are medical professionals, and they are not qualified to make such decisions. I’m not sure why that was included, but it’s definitely going to be removed.”

That’s a relief, but the incident proves just how explosive the concussion discussion remains. And now it appears as if head injuries, while never far from the national spotlight, could become a significant factor in the GOP’s plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Those efforts “will seep into almost every aspect of American life, including sports,” reports SBNation.com.

“If I had a child, and I was not fully insured, that child would not be playing any sport at all because I’d be way too worried about injury,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) told SB Nation. “And once that injury is there, if they were to repeal the ACA, that would be a pre-existing condition. That could affect that child for the rest of their life if they couldn’t get the care they needed.”

Here are other ways in which repealing the ACA could impact sports, according to SB Nation:

  • Many NFL players rely on ACA for their health insurance, because of a “100 percent injury rate,” in the words of DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the National Football League Players’ Association.
  • Democratic lawmakers and activists say millions of young athletes might not receive the proper preventative and rehabilitative care they need if ACA were to go away.
  • Conversations about ACA could drown out other sports-related concerns that federal lawmakers typically address, including concussions, chronic traumatic encephalopathy and fantasy sports.

Of course, the repeal and replacement of Obamacare is far from a done deal, and the status of the new plan seems to be in a state of constant flux. But any action regarding the ACA will no doubt have far-reaching repercussions.

“People are waking up to the fact that if this law gets repealed, without, at least, as good or better a replacement — which we’ve never seen in all the years — their lives are going to be significantly less secure and their healthcare is going to be in real danger,” Schakowsky said. “That applies across the board, from athletes to everyone.”

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