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Urban Areas Fare Better than Rural CO in GOP Health Plan

In Colorado, 75 percent of households that would get tax cuts through "Obamacare repeal and replace" legislation are in the Denver metro area. (Getty Images)
In Colorado, 75 percent of households that would get tax cuts through "Obamacare repeal and replace" legislation are in the Denver metro area. (Getty Images)
June 23, 2017

DENVER – If the GOP is able to repeal and replace Obamacare, Denver's wealthiest households will fare much better than rural Coloradans, according to new analysis by the Colorado Fiscal Institute.

Thamanna Vasan, an economic policy analyst with the Institute, says progress made under the Affordable Care Act in getting more Coloradans health coverage could be rolled back under the new law.

"The uninsured rate is going to go back up again, wealthy folks are going to get tax cuts, and the folks that are going to be most impacted by this - especially in the light of our budget situation as a state - it's going to be the rural Coloradans," she lamented.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the number of Coloradans without health coverage dropped by more than half, from 14 percent of the population to just under seven percent - largely due to Medicaid expansion.

Supporters of the new health bill insist the ACA isn't working, and that able-bodied Americans should be able to pay for their own insurance.

Vasan points out that Medicaid cuts will have direct impacts on seniors, children and people with disabilities. She adds in most rural counties, close to half the population relies on the program.

"It's going to force states to cut back on the services that they cover," she says. "It's going to force states to cut back on the people they're able to cover. And it's going to force states, especially in Colorado, to cut back on coverage in these rural areas that really depend on it."

The analysis also found that 75 percent of Colorado's wealthiest households, who stand to benefit from tax breaks in the new bill, live in the Denver metro area. Vasan says those tax cuts would come at the expense of rural counties, which stand to lose twice as many jobs as urban areas.

"Which means that a nurse that was working at a local hospital is now going to be spending less at his or her local restaurant, which then means that jobs are going to be lost in those local restaurants as well."

The institute projects more than 16,000 jobs could disappear statewide by 2020 if the GOP bill becomes law, and Colorado's rural economies would lose $1.2 billion overall, including $158 million in lost wages.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO