The S̶k̶i̶n̶n̶y̶ Sabotage Bill: It’ll Rob Millions Of Healthcare AND Jobs

Repealing Obamacare will hurt Americans physically and financially
From left, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speak to reporters at the Capitol — Thursday, July 27, 2017. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

From left, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speak to reporters at the Capitol — Thursday, July 27, 2017. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

During the Republican Primary debate on January 26, 2016, Ted Cruz railed against the Affordable Care Act (ACA), in a familiar talking point that dominated Republican campaigns from 2010 onwards:

“It is the biggest job-killer in this country. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, have been forced into part-time work, have lost their health insurance, have lost their doctors, have seen their premiums skyrocket.”

Regardless of Politifact rating this statement as a “Pants on Fire” lie, this messaging has held fast and strong in the GOP’s effort to repeal the ACA ever since it was implemented in 2010. Critics of the law have constantly warned that it would wreck the economy and send us spiraling into another recession. Entire candidacies were built around this idea.

Healthcare has headlined the news cycle since Tuesday’s vote to throw regular order out the window, and proceed to a vote with a byzantine set of tactics that many officials don’t even understand themselves. Currently, members of the Senate are preparing for a long night of votes on healthcare — possibly culminating in the progression of what is known as a “skinny” repeal bill. This proposal would eliminate the individual and employer mandates, eliminate funds for preventative healthcare, and change the rules regarding Medicaid expansion.

It could also destroy more jobs than Obamacare could ever dream of.

Job Killer?

Much has been made regarding the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring of the multiple bills the House and Senate have put forward in hopes of dismantling the ACA. For example, the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 was estimated to increase the number of people who are uninsured by 22 million by 2026. With what little we know regarding the “skinny” repeal, the CBO scored a proto-type of the bill as raising the number of uninsured people by 16 million over baseline estimates by 2026 and increasing premiums by 20%.

These kind of numbers are making headlines, and for very important reasons. Repealing any of the major aspects of Obamacare — i.e. the individual mandate, the employer mandate, or certain taxes — will increase the number of uninsured citizens by massive amounts. Children, people of color, and those with prior medical conditions would be disproportionately affected by such a repeal.

However, there is another element of concern to consider in this discussion. In 2016, the healthcare industry created more jobs than any other sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With the additional funding provided by provisions specified in the ACA, jobs in this sector sky-rocketed, helping drive total job growth by 2.2 million as of last year.

In December alone, 43,000 healthcare related jobs were added to the market, putting the industry as accounting for nearly 15.8 million jobs. Needless to say, this kind of job growth has done wonders for a country recovering from a recession. Healthcare services have provided jobs across demographics, but have been particularly accessible for entry-level employees, helping serve those who have lost factory jobs or are just graduating college.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

In early 2016, the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that aims to provide policymakers with research related to healthcare, released a study documenting the projected job loss if the ACA was repealed. These findings are all contingent on which elements of the ACA are repealed and how they are replaced — if they are replaced. That being said, the results paint a bleak economic picture.

A repeal that dismantles the law’s insurance premium tax credits and restricts Medicaid expansion would result in a “$140 billion loss in federal funding for health care in 2019, leading to the loss of 2.6 million jobs” that year alone. If replacement policies weren’t enacted, there would be a $1.5 trillion loss in gross state products, with businesses reducing their monetary output to catastrophic degrees.

This study only takes into consideration the ways cuts in federal funding would reduce the number of healthcare related jobs. A Goldman Sachs report cautioned that “substantial decline in insurance coverage would also likely be associated with a drag on health-care employment and health-care consumption.” The fewer people able to afford healthcare coverage, the less money that exists in the field. This coupled with an extreme reduction in federal funding has the ability to destabilize the entire market.

It’s simple math really. Less insured people, less money in healthcare, fewer jobs to go around.

The skinny repeal — a misnomer if I ever heard one — is more modest than previous proposals. That being said, previous proposals included just getting rid of the ACA with no contingency plan, so the bar was set about as low as it could get. By getting rid of the individual mandate, it would still have a major impact on the insurance market, potentially causing premiums to skyrocket.

Additionally, it stands to rattle the general market completely, given that insurer deadlines for setting 2018 rates are mere weeks away. There is no way for insurers to know the final form of the bill before these deadlines hit, forcing them to either set premiums higher now in expectation or leave the individual market altogether. Either way, this would disrupt the field in a way that will have disastrous consequences for both businesses and consumers.

The GOP’s Continuing Gaslighting of the American People

The short of this overwhelming narrative is that repealing key provisions of the ACA, without full replacement procedures, is going to have devastating consequences for millions of citizens — for reasons other than the potential loss of their healthcare.

The loss of funding for so many newly implemented jobs could have devastating effects on the marketplace — especially given that a majority of these jobs functioned as post-grad recruitment opportunities. In this day and age, with college graduates entering the job market to dismal-at-best prospects, dismantling the funding behind an industry that statistically helped pull communities out of the recession is absolutely horrific.

When you consider that many Republicans ran on the message of bringing jobs back to America, one has to wonder how little their respect for their base would have to be to outright lie to their faces.

Repealing the ACA is not only a moral disaster, it is an economic one. If Mitch McConnell and other members of the GOP get their way, they could be sending this country down a path of unprecedented economic downturn. As a country, we’ve been in this position before.

The difference is that now we know exactly who is putting us there.

Deconstructed // Economics / Health / Healthcare