A new report released on Wednesday says the House Republican healthcare overhaul plan could result in nearly 1 million jobs being lost nationwide by 2026 and almost 85,000 jobs lost in Pennsylvania, second only to New York.
The study, titled American Health Care Act: Economic and Employment Consequences, by The Commonwealth Fund, a private health-care focused foundation, and the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., determined that the Republican-backed AHCA would cause every state to suffer an economic downturn with states that expanded their Medicaid coverage, such as Pennsylvania, enduring the worst effects.
The AHCA would initially cause a brief spurt of economic growth from tax cuts, which primarily help those with high incomes, said Leighton Ku, the director of the Center for Health Policy Research at the Milken Institute and the lead author of the report, in a statement. However, cuts in funding for Medicaid and health subsidies then begin to deepen, triggering sharp job losses and broad disruption of state economies in the following years.
After House Republicans passed the AHCA, it went to the Senate for consideration, but a panel of senators, including U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, is formulating a separate plan that has not been publicly released.
The Congressional Budget Office has said the number of uninsured Americans would increase by 23 million under the AHCA.
As health care premiums and deductibles continue to skyrocket and choices dwindle, it is more urgent than ever that we repeal and replace Obamacare, said Toomey spokesman Steve Kelly, who added that Toomey has called the House bill a starting point.
Researchers conclude in the report that the AHCA would greatly reduce the number of people with insurance coverage, effectively reversing gains made since the laws enactment. The AHCA would initially create more employment and economic growth, driven by a federal deficit increase in 2018 and 2019, but the effects turn negative as coverage reductions deepen, with job losses and lower economic growth beginning in 2021.
If the AHCA were implemented in its current form, gross state products, similar to gross domestic product, would fall by $93 billion by 2026 and the states business output would decline by $148 billion, concluded researchers.
Pennsylvania would gain 34,900 jobs in 2018, but eventually lose 84,900 jobs by 2026, the report estimates, including 52,500 health care jobs lost by 2026. Pennsylvanias gross state product would decline by $8.9 billion and its business output would fall by $14.2 billion by 2026.
Job losses would be caused by reductions in health care spending, cuts in Medicaid funding and less funding for tax subsidies to help Americans buy health coverage, the report said. By 2026, 1.9 million jobs would be lost and business output would be down by $400 billion.
The only state estimated to lose more jobs than Pennsylvania by 2026 is New York with 86,000. By that same year, Ohio is estimated to lose 42,000 jobs while West Virginia could lose 10,200.
A statement from Gov. Tom Wolfs office said he had serious concerns about the reports findings.
This report is just another example of the alarming approach Washington is pursuing on health care and our economy in the long term, Wolf said. The Republican proposal will raise costs for older Pennsylvanians, put coverage at risk for nearly a million Pennsylvanians, and strip important consumer protections away from nearly every health-care consumer, but this report raises even more concerns about the long-term damage these health-care cuts will have on Pennsylvania and the country.
In response to the report, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said it demonstrates that hidden in the GOP plan is a pink slip for 85,000 Pennsylvanians. The jobs lost caused by the Republican approach will make it more difficult to for families in Western Pennsylvania to make ends meet. We should be working together to protect jobs and make health care more affordable and abandon this scheme to cut taxes for the wealthy under the guise of health care.
Kelly said relying on CBOs findings as the basis for an employment study will lead to dubious conclusions considering that many equally knowledgeable and nonpartisan experts have come to very different projections than the CBO about the effects of the House bill.