The U.S. Senate acted in Thursday’s wee hours to sever the financial arteries of Obamacare, even as one study warned the move could blow up 181,000 Florida jobs by 2019 — second most in the country after California.
Repeal supporters pushed back against assumptions behind the study, while a Florida advocacy group warned of a coming “travesty.” Democratic U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel plans to host a rally to “save health care” Sunday afternoon in West Palm Beach.
For his part, president-elect Donald Trump assured voters a better system is on the way. Just wait for confirmation of health appointee Tom Price for details of a replacement plan, he said.
Focus shifted to the GOP-led House on moves that do not require votes from Democrats but set the stage to cut off the Affordable Care Act’s lifeblood provisions. Among them: end government help to make insurance premiums cheaper. Those average more than $300 a month per subsidized consumer in Florida, which leads the nation in sign-ups on healthcare.gov.
As for job impact, the Commonwealth Fund figures its study is the first to look in depth at employment and related economic impacts if essential parts of the Affordable Care Act go away without a known replacement.
“As millions lose their insurance, hospitals and other providers would see their uncompensated medical care costs soar by $1.1 trillion from 2019 to 2028, and they would experience major revenue losses as well,” the study concluded.
What jobs are at risk? The projected impact includes not only health jobs like nurses and administrators but also other industries from construction to retail, said Leighton Ku, a study author and director of the Center for Health Policy Research at George Washington University. That includes ripple effects as some lose jobs and household budgets take a hit, plus millions may have to pay more for health premiums and services and have less to spend on other things.
The bottom line is jobs go away if “the money to pay for them isn’t there anymore,” Ku said.
Supporters of Obamacare repeal told The Palm Beach Post one problem is the study relies on worst-case assumptions.
“The entire study is faulty because it is basing its analysis of the possible effects of a repeal of Obamacare premium tax credits and Medicaid expansion without any other changes to federal policy, and doesn’t factor in any policy actions taken by the states,” said Chris Hudson, Florida director of Americans for Prosperity, which pushes for smaller government. “There has not been a single indication that anyone intends to repeal just these two policies and not make any other substantive policy changes.”
Few dispute Florida has a king-size stake in what happens. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation calculated Florida and its Obamacare customers have the most to lose of any state in the country, $5.2 billion, in subsidies to make premiums cheaper. More than 1.5 million Floridians have signed up for Obamacare marketplace plans, and about nine out of 10 get subsidies.
The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation based in Washington, D.C., says its mission is to “promote a high-performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society’s most vulnerable, including low-income people, the uninsured, minority Americans, young children, and elderly adults.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who has made job growth a cornerstone of his administration, did not respond to a request for comment on the study through a spokeswoman. In a letter to Congressional leaders this month, he urged immediate repeal: “The time for major change in health care is now — not in six months or two years.”
He recommended a host of changes, including more flexibility for states and more choices for consumers in the design of insurance plans.
Florida CHAIN (Community Health Action Information Network), a patient advocacy organization, fired back Thursday at Scott’s letter.
If millions lose insurance and the flow of money is disrupted between hospitals, physicians, pharmacies and other players, the result would be “disaster,” the group said.
“The Affordable Care Act is far from perfect, but with some targeted modifications to fix those parts that are problematic, we could come up with something very workable,” Florida CHAIN’s response said.
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Categories: Affordable Care Act, health insurance