The Republican Congress has begun the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare, apparently to save money. Before this train leaves the station, we need to ask how much the repeal will cost us and who will benefit from it.
The costs are well researched. Repeal will eliminate health care coverage for 431,000 Wisconsin residents – possibly you, someone in your family, or a neighbor! Among those who will suffer a loss of insurance are people who currently receive income-based subsidies for marketplace insurance, tax credits for insurance, coverage under a parent’s plan and/or lowered prescription drug costs for Medicare recipients. Those who receive tax credits and cost-sharing benefits stand to lose $4,953 per year.
In addition, Wisconsin is projected to lose 45,700 jobs! These hits will come first in the health care sector and then elsewhere as a result of lost wages and purchasing power for goods and services.
The cost to Wisconsin hospitals and doctors will be in the neighborhood of $1.1 billion in lost income! Further, hospitals will see an increase of $433 million and doctors an increase of $217 million in uncompensated care. Rural areas like ours will be hit hardest by this change. Some facilities may go under. Is that good for Wisconsin and Door County?
And without the ACA, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that health insurance premiums will double in the next decade. Basically, who pays for health care of an uninsured patient? We all do.
So, who will benefit from the repeal of ACA? Private insurance companies that no longer have to cover pre-existing conditions or observe ACA regulations may see their profits rise. Otherwise the answer is mysterious.
Certainly, the proposed block grants to states and vouchers to individuals will not add up to the budget for the ACA (and they will buy less care). But where will the saved money go? For whom is it saved? Just as we cannot be sure that the block grants will actually be used for health care, we cannot be sure what Congress will decide to do with the supposed savings.
If you agree that the cost of repealing the ACA is too high for Wisconsin residents, contact your legislators today and ask them not to vote for it.
Sister Bay, Wis.