Report claims GOP health plans could cost Pa. 85,000 jobs

Pennsylvania could lose nearly 85,000 jobs over the coming decade due to health care changes backed by Congressional Republicans, a new report says.

The report, produced by George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health and the Commonwealth Fund, predicts that House Republicans’ American Health Care Act (AHCA), passed last month, could cause the state to lose 84,900 total jobs by 2026, including 52,500 in the health sector.

Its authors also predict that Pennsylvania would lose $8.9 billion in gross state product and $14.2 billion in business output.

Senate Republicans are working on their own version of a bill to roll back the Affordable Care Act, commonly dubbed Obamacare.

Despite differences between GOP members in the two chambers, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf predicts that the result of either bill will be damaging to Pennsylvania and its residents.

“Unfortunately, every indication is that these impacts (as detailed in the report) will only be delayed in the Senate Republican repeal of the Affordable Care Act,” Wolf said.

A spokesman for Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey raised concerns about the report, which relies on Congressional Budget Office (CBO) data.

“Senator Toomey has noted on numerous occasions that the House bill is a starting point and the Senate is drafting its own legislation,” Steve Kelly said.

“Relying on CBO’s 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,” Kelly added.

Report details

The report concentrates on three metrics:

  • Employment levels, measured as changes in the number of jobs created or lost due to policy changes
  • State economic growth, as measured by changes in gross state products in current dollars, adjusted for inflation (an aggregate measure of state economies, analogous to the gross domestic product at the national level)
  • State business output, as measured by changes in business receipts in current dollars at production, wholesale, and retail levels, encompassing multiple levels of business activity.

Noting that the AHCA would significantly reduce federal funding for Medicaid, the study’s authors note that its estimates for state activity are based on estimated changes in federal funding gained or lost to states, consumers and businesses.

Pennsylvania’s 85,000 lost jobs would be second only to New York, which the report predicts would lose 86,000 positions.

“The AHCA is designed so that tax cuts take effect sooner than reductions in health insurance subsidies,” the report states. “Thus, state employment and economies could grow at first but shrink in later years as the coverage reductions deepen.”

Wolf said the study “highlights the misguided path that Republican majorities in Washington” are pursuing. In addition to putting coverage at risk for nearly a million Pennsylvanians, Wolf said the GOP’s moves would cause “long-term damage” for the state and the nation, as the report highlights.

Those fighting for the repeal of Obamacare argue that the law continues to do damage so long as it remains intact.

“As health care premiums and deductibles continue to skyrocket and choices dwindle, it is more urgent than ever that we repeal and replace Obamacare,” Toomey spokesman Kelly said.

Toomey’s Pennsylvania counterpart, Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Casey, on Thursday released county-by-county data Thursday showing what a statement called the “damning effects” of Republican health care plans on the state’s seniors. A full report on that information will appear on cpbj.com on Friday.

Val DiGiorgio, chairman of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, called on Democrats to work with President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans to “fix our broken health care system.”

“During the last four years, health care premiums have gone through the roof under Obamacare,” DiGiorgio said. 

“Sadly, Democrats are choosing party politics over the best interests of the American people by ignoring the fact that Obamacare is collapsing before our eyes,” DiGiorgio added, criticizing Casey and Wolf for supporting a system he said has “driven premium costs up for our families by 120 percent.”

Even Trump has had his concerns about Congress’ proposals, however.

The president on Tuesday appeared to reverse his earlier position and called the House effort “mean,” a move the New York Times suggested is likely to involve Trump in a Senate battle.

Roger DuPuis
Roger DuPuis covers Cumberland County, health care, transportation, distribution, energy and environment. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at rdupuis@cpbj.com.

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