Repeal of financial portions of Obamacare will result in substantial job losses, increased charity care at hospitals and leave more people without health insurance, according to a nonpartisan study conducted by George Washington University for the Commonwealth Fund.
Public and private job loss in Oregon could total 45,000 as early as 2019. Forty percent of the lost jobs would be in health care, but other sectors, including construction, retail, finance and insurance, also would suffer, the study finds. Lost jobs would translate into reduced gross state product and, ultimately, in lower state and local taxes, which could top $800 million between 2019 and 2023.
The major cause of job loss, according to the researchers, would come from repeal of federal premium tax credits and federal payments to states for expanding Medicaid eligibility. Nationally, as many as 2.6 million jobs could be lost in 2019, including in states that declined to expand their Medicaid eligibility. The study projects a $1.5 trillion impact on gross state product between 2019 and 2023, with a drop in business output of $2.6 trillion and a $48 billion decline of state and local tax revenue.
These estimates don’t take into account a replacement for the portions of Obamacare that Congress repeals, which could mitigate job losses and other negative impacts.
The underlying message of the Commonwealth Fund study is to rebut the “common misconception that the health reform law has been a ‘job killer.’ This study indicates that repeal of these policies, without sound replacement policies could cause major job losses and economic dislocation in every state.”
“While health reform repeal would dramatically increase the number of uninsured and harm access to health care, particularly for low- and moderate-income Americans,” the study authors said, “this analysis demonstrates that the consequences could be broader and extend we all beyond the health care system.”
Elizabeth Hayes of the Portland Business Journal reported the study findings came as Oregon Governor Kate Brown sent a 2-page letter to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy defending Obamacare.
“Discontinuing federal funding or shifting costs of health care reform from the federal government to states will put pressure on our ability to fund other critical services such as public safety, education and humans services,” Brown said. “And reforms that create uncertainty for patients, hospitals and insurance carriers will destabilize our insurance market and undermine our current our recent gains.”
Brown added, “We need to correct the shortcomings of [Obamacare], not dismantle it.”
Dropping patients from Medicaid is likely to force more people to seek uncompensated care through emergency rooms, which would increase hospital charity care. Hayes notes Oregon uncompensated care at hospitals dropped from $845 million in 2013 to $315 million in 2015. Higher levels of charity care put pressure on hospitals and health insurers to shift costs to private-sector payors.