The Economic Costs of Repealing the Affordable Care Act
Can a new study convince Republicans to save Obamacare? Health care repeal to cost 3 million jobs, $1 trillion in economic losses.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) joined the small but growing chorus of Republicans declaring their discomfort with the current GOP plan to repeal Obamacare without a plan to replace it. “Repeal and replacement should take place simultaneously,” Corker said Friday.
Three other senators have publicly said they would like to repeal Obamacare with a replacement ready, which puts the margin Republicans need to pass a repeal-only bill in the upper chamber in danger. With the GOP holding only 52 seats in the Senate, and Democrats unified in their opposition to repeal, Republicans can afford to lose only two votes in their repeal effort.
This week, both Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Rand Paul (R-KY) expressed their objections to the repeal-only approach, while Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has been skeptical of the plan since early on, and even voted against the 2015 “test run” legislation to repeal Obamacare.
These senators represent a trend amidst Republicans. Many of the same voters who object to Obamacare also want a replacement. In fact, for many voters, Obamacare is more popular under a different name. 46% of those polled opposed the health care bill under the name “Obamacare,” but only 36% opposed it under the name “Affordable Care Act.” This suggests a potential confusion on what Obamacare does and the benefits it provides.
The senators who object to repeal without replacement are concerned about costing their constituents’ jobs and costing them insurance coverage. Consider this state-by-state breakdown of how repeal without replacement will cost jobs and coverage in the four states with Senators who are having second thoughts.
With that many jobs on the line and that many people standing to lose their health insurance, it’s no wonder these Senators are concerned.
In fact, the Commonwealth Fund recently published a study on the effects of repealing Obamacare. According to their analysis, repeal without replacement would cost 2.6 million jobs in 2019 alone, and most of those job losses would come from the private sector. The study continues: “A third of lost jobs are in health care, with the majority in other industries. If replacement policies are not in place, there will be a cumulative $1.5 trillion loss in gross state products and a $2.6 trillion reduction in business output from 2019 to 2023. States and health care providers will be particularly hard hit by the funding cuts.”
The study explains that Obamacare generates jobs and economic output through a combination of tax credits and federal funding for state Medicaid programs. The tax credits and Medicaid funding flow to health insurers and health care providers, who use the money to hire and pay additional employees. As those employees spend their incomes on goods and services like rent, food, and transportation, the money from tax credits and Medicaid funding flows into the general economy.
Therefore, not only would many Americans find themselves deprived of health insurance, the dangers of repealing Obamacare transfer to the entire economy due to higher rates of unemployment, lower economic activity, and reduced state and local tax revenues. The study ends with this chilling prediction: “This analysis demonstrates that the consequences could extend well beyond the health care system, triggering major reductions in employment and substantial losses in state economic activity and reduced state and local revenues. And these repercussions are likely to reverberate across all states and most sectors of the economy.
These effects are indeed very concerning to a large portion of Trump and Republican voters, many of whom voted on the issues of health care and job loss. While not the biggest factor in swaying voters, a nationwide survey found 68% of people considered health care to be a major factor in their vote for president, and 75% considered jobs to be a major factor.
If these effects seem worrisome to you, you can voice your concern to your representatives. Contact information for the four dissenting Republicans can be found below, and you can enter your state here to find your own representative to contact. Please note that physical letters and phone calls usually carry more weight with representatives than email.
Additionally, Bernie Sanders is organizing rallies across thirty states to show support for Obamacare. Locations can be found here. If you want to stop the GOP from Making America Sick Again, these are all excellent ways to make your voice heard.
Written by Roman Matera. Edited by Ash Saraga