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Report: Big Losses in PA if ACA is Repealed

Increased demand for uncompensated care could force some Pennsylvania hospitals to close, according to a new report about the consequences of repealing the Affordable Care Act. (Engin_Akyurt/Pixabay)
Increased demand for uncompensated care could force some Pennsylvania hospitals to close, according to a new report about the consequences of repealing the Affordable Care Act. (Engin_Akyurt/Pixabay)
July 17, 2019

HARRISBURG, Pa. – A new report outlines severe consequences for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

The Trump administration wants a federal appeals court to uphold a ruling that says the Obama administration's signature health-care law is unconstitutional. If the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agrees, the case is likely to go to the Supreme Court.

According to the report from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, repealing Obamacare would have a devastating impact on health, health-care costs and jobs in the Keystone State. Center director Marc Stier said repealing the ACA would return the number of people in the state with no health insurance to where it was 10 years ago.

"Full repeal of the ACA would leave about 1.5 million people without insurance, 14.4% of the state's population," he said. "That's an increase of 858,000 people."

Opponents of the law have said that eliminating the penalties for not having health insurance made the mandate that everyone must buy health insurance unconstitutional.

In Pennsylvania, Stier said, ACA repeal would lead to a 116.8% increase in demand for uncompensated care, costing hospitals $1.8 billion a year.

"They may find themselves losing a significant amount of money," he said, "and in rural areas, as well as some urban areas, where a large proportion of the population will now be uninsured, we may see hospitals go under."

Pennsylvania is among the top 20 states the report said would see the largest increases in demand for uncompensated care. Repeal also would result in the loss of about 137,000 jobs in Pennsylvania, increases in prescription drug costs for seniors, and a loss of insurance coverage for young adults. Stier said coverage for pre-existing conditions could be eliminated or become extraordinarily expensive.

"And that affects everyone who has health insurance," he said. "It doesn't matter whether you get it through one of the Affordable Care Act institutions or you get it through your employer, or you get it through an individual market."

The report said more than 426,000 Pennsylvanians get their health coverage through the insurance exchange, and most qualify for tax credits to help with the cost.

The report is online at krc-pbpc.org.

Disclosure: Keystone Research Center, Inc. contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA