Not only are millions of Americans in danger of losing their health coverage under president-elect Donald Trump’s administration, tens of thousands of Ohioans could also lose their jobs over the next few years if Republican lawmakers are successful in repealing key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, according to a new study.
The majority of the job losses, including 126,000 in Ohio, would occur in 2019, resulting from a loss of $140 billion in federal funding for tax credits used to subsidize premium costs for people covered by private insurance under the health law, and federal funds used to expand Medicaid to millions of able-bodied Americans with incomes below the poverty level.
Total job losses could climb as high as 3 million positions in health care and other sectors by the year 2021, according to the study from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University and The Commonwealth Fund.
“Repealing key parts of the ACA could trigger massive job losses and a slump in consumer and business spending that would affect all sectors of state economies,” said Leighton Ku, lead author of the report.
But Greg Lawson, policy director of the conservative Buckeye Institute, said there’s no reason to panic: “I don’t think there’s any serious consideration that the folks in Congress are going to immediately get rid of all of this. There will be significant reforms that will be forthcoming….but it’s not going to happen overnight like flipping a switch.”
Congressional Republicans have already taken the first step toward quickly repealing the law, which they promise to replace at a later date, by filing a budget resolution Tuesday that would act as the vehicle for repeal.
And, while president-elect Trump and some Republicans have said that even after voting to repeal the law they want to work with Democrats in Congress to keep some of the law’s most popular attributes — such as guaranteeing coverage for people with preexisting conditions — they still haven’t proposed a replacement.
That has created anxiety for millions of Americans covered by the ACA, commonly known as Obamacare, including 230,254 Ohioans who either re-enrolled or signed up for private health coverage this year during the initial open enrollment period, and more than 716,000 in the state covered by expanded Medicaid, according to government figures.
And even many Republicans agree that coming up with a replacement plan will be a difficult because any replacement would have to continue financial support to alleviate health costs for the vast majority of those currently covered by the ACA who otherwise couldn’t afford coverage.
“I think our federal officials need to come up with a replacement,” said Ohio Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miami Twp. “I think that the current law is not working. We’ve seen premiums go up for a lot of people, and I think it’s pretty undisputed the the current law is not working, and major changes are needed, including a repeal and a replacement.
“I’m hopeful that our Republican elected officials can come up with a replacement and do that quickly,” Antani said. “I’m sure once we do, the concerns the report brings up will be mitigated.”
If not, hospitals and health care providers would see their costs to treat the uninsured skyrocket by $1.1 trillion between 2019 and 2028, according to the study. Meanwhile, health insurers such as downtown Dayton-based CareSource — a nonprofit Medicaid managed care provider and private health insurer under the ACA — could see major revenue losses as well.
“Think about all the workers CareSource has hired recently,” said John Bowblis, a Miami University economics professor who specializes in health care, referring to the hundreds of workers CareSource has hired in the past two years alone. “If you cut this program (ACA), all those jobs are questionable. And that will have a secondary impact because everybody who was hired by CareSource is buying goods at the local grocery store, paying for laundry services; they’re creating economic growth by buying other things.”
In addition, repealing the ACA would make it harder for many of the uninsured to hold down a job, which would also have a ripple effect across the broader economy, according to Wendy Patton, senior project director for the liberal-leaning Policy Matters Ohio.
“We know, for example, that medical crisis was a driving factor in the housing bust and recession. People were getting sick and couldn’t work, and they were losing their homes. The ability to get coverage not only helps the individual by improving their health so they are more financially secure, it also stabilizes their communities and therefore the statewide economy.”
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