Congressional Republicans are moving fast to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In the first week of January, they pledged to undo the legislation through the process of budget reconciliation. In response, healthcare leaders are speaking out about the ACA’s benefits and the potentially dire impact of repeal on patients and hospitals without replacement.
If the ACA is repealed, over 2.7 million New Yorkers would lose health care coverage and $3.7 billion would be gutted from the state budget, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo. Nearly 2 million of those who would potentially be affected live in New York City, Long Island and Westchester. According to a Commonwealth Fund report, over 130,000 jobs could be lost in the state in 2019 if the repeal took effect that year. Thirty-six percent of the job losses would occur in the health care sector.
In Governor Cuomo’s press release, 1199SEIU President George Gresham said: “New York’s healthcare workers see the positive impact of the Affordable Care Act every day. Our patients are able to access preventative care instead of coming to emergency rooms in states of advanced illness. Our employers have reduced losses from uncompensated care.”
Kenneth Raske, President of the Greater New York Hospital Association said, “These deeply troubling numbers are only the tip of the iceberg if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. It will also severely harm the hospital community.” Safety net hospitals and the vulnerable communities that they serve will be particularly hard hit, according to Raske.
Jason Helgerson, New York State Medicaid director told Crain’s that repealing the ACA without replacement legislation would return health care access “back to the Stone Age.” Under the ACA, eligibility for Medicaid has expanded to all adults and families earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). With repeal, eligibility would drop to the pre-ACA level of 94% of the FPL and would once again exclude childless adults.
New York State Senator and Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, and other Congressional Democrats are fighting back. In a press conference on January 4, Senator Schumer and colleagues pledged to resist efforts to gut the ACA. They also introduced a catch phrase, “Make America Sick Again,” a play on Trump’s campaign slogan. With a president-elect who has pledged to end the ACA, a Republican-controlled Senate, and a Republican-controlled House that has already attempted more than 60 times to overturn the bill, the politicians fighting to protect the ACA will need the support of their constituents.
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