Report: 5 Ways the Obamacare Repeal Will Slam Pa.’s Economy

Think big-time job loss and swelling ranks of the uninsured.

pa capital building

On the first day of his presidency, Donald Trump issued an executive order to start rolling back the Affordable Care Act, and the repeal will result in some major shocks for Pennsylvanians and the state’s economy, according to a report released last week by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

The report’s key findings show that once the Trump administration begins to roll back the law, instituted in 2010, these five things will happen across the state:

  1. Pennsylvania’s job market will take a hit.
    More than 137,000 Pennsylvanians will lose their jobs, the nonprofit government research organization estimates in the report. And the losses won’t be limited to the healthcare sector. People in construction and real estate, the retail trade, and finance and insurance will be affected, with 97 percent of the loss occurring in the private sector. According to another report by the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund, Pennsylvania will lose the fourth-highest amount of jobs, behind California, Florida, and Texas.
  2. Hospitals and other healthcare providers will see their revenues decline substantially.
    According to the report, when more people get health insurance, they increase the income of health care providers, and this helps guarantee that those providers are available to others. This is especially true for low-income urban neighborhoods and rural communities. If there’s no demand for the few health care providers that are there because people can’t pay, those health care providers will leave the area. The report includes evidence that the expansion of health insurance under the ACA has already begun to relieve some financial pressure on Pennsylvania hospitals.
  3. More than 1.1 million Pennsylvanians will lose health insurance.
    The ACA sought to reduce the number of uninsured Americans, the report says, and a repeal of its key parts, like Medicaid expansion, would cause more than 1.1 million Pennsylvanians to lose their health insurance. And because we know what happens to death rates when Medicaid coverage is expanded — the rate decreases — when coverage is thwarted, the rate will go up. The report estimates that an additional 3,250 deaths will occur in the state as a result of losing coverage. National reports estimate more than 43,000 annual deaths will occur nationwide.
  4. The Commonwealth’s GDP will decline and state and local tax revenues will fall.
    With health care set to be 18 percent of the U.S. economy by 2019, any major change in the sector will affect the economy as a whole, the report says. And in Pennsylvania, in particular, new health care spending rose with the ACA, creating “a large positive impact on the state’s gross domestic product.” But a repeal will have the opposite effect. According to the study, the state’s GDP will decline by over $75 million, and tax revenues for both state and local governments will fall by $2.4 billion over a five-year period.
  5. The repeal will add more than $1 billion to the state’s budget deficit.
    Because the Affordable Care Act reduced state spending for healthcare programs created by Pennsylvania itself, like the Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly (PACE) program, which helped low-income seniors purchase medication, state expenditures will increase by about $1,130 million. That’ll be just one contribution to the deficit that’s estimated to rise an additional $1.4 billion annually.

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