Now that “repeal and replace Obamacare” has moved from Republican mantra to near-inevitability, it’s becoming clear that repealing the landmark healthcare legislation will be disastrous on many levels.
The first issue at stake is the cost of a repeal. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget – a public policy nonprofit – estimated that repealing Obamacare would cost $350 billion over the coming decade.
But the federal government isn’t the only one footing the bill. Repealing Obamacare could cost hospitals over $165 billion by 2025. And if Medicare payment reductions are not maintained, hospitals could lose almost $290 billion due to a repeal over the same period.
According to Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, and Chip Kahn, president and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals:
“Losses of this magnitude cannot be sustained and will adversely impact patients’ access to care, decimate hospitals’ and health systems’ ability to provide services, weaken local economies that hospitals help sustain and grow, and result in massive job losses. As you know, hospitals are often the largest employer in many communities, and more than half of a hospital’s budget is devoted to supporting the salaries and benefits of caregivers who provide 24/7 coverage, which cannot be replaced.”
Indeed, according to some reports, Obamacare is responsible for the massive growth the healthcare industry has enjoyed during the Obama administration. Over the past eight years, the economy added nearly 3 million new healthcare jobs. It’s unlikely that these jobs would survive the end of Obamacare.
Anxiety over a repeal has already hurt healthcare workers. The Advisory Board Company – a healthcare consultancy and research firm – laid off 220 people last week in anticipation of an expected Obamacare rollback.
And beyond the costs in dollars and jobs, of course, there’s that bothersome issue of the many flesh-and-blood people who would lose their health insurance if Obamacare goes the way of the dodo. Some 24 million people would lose health coverage by 2021 if President-elect Trump and his cronies in Congress have their way. Over 80 percent of those former Obamacare enrollees would be from working families, and the number of uninsured would more than double.
The costs of healthcare for ordinary citizens would skyrocket. Researchers from the Brookings Institution found that:
“Average premiums for the second-lowest cost silver-level (SLS) marketplace plan in 2014, which serves as a benchmark for ACA subsidies, were between 10 and 21 percent lower than average individual market premiums in 2013, before the ACA…”
If these subsidies are abolished, prices will rise and people will be unwilling or unable to get the care they need. Between 2019 and 2028, the uninsured may seek upwards of $1.1 trillion in uncompensated care (that is, healthcare services provided to people who are unable or unwilling to pay).
The situation is grim. But some Republican senators have expressed doubts about the wisdom of repealing Obamacare without a replacement; others are concerned that the repeal would take up to two years to go into effect. The Senate is expected to vote on a budget resolution Wednesday as a first step toward repealing Obamacare.
Watch the video below for more on what an Obamacare repeal would look like:
Featured image via YouTube video.