If it becomes law, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), as passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, could cause an estimated 924,000 jobs to disappear by 2026 and trigger an economic downturn in nearly every state, according to a new report published by researchers at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health and The Commonwealth Fund.
States that expanded their Medicaid coverage are likely to experience more severe losses, notes the press release. Seven states—Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Washington—have laws that will automatically reverse their expansions if the federal government changes what it pays toward Medicaid.
The report, The American Health Care Act: Economic and Employment Consequences for States, evaluates the AHCA’s impact on states’ economies. It estimates that if the AHCA is enacted in its current form, gross state products—an economic measure akin to gross domestic product—could fall by $93 billion by 2026, and state business output could fall by $148 billion.
The job losses and economic slowdown would not happen everywhere right away, the report concludes, since the tax repeals in the law would lead to an initial period of economic growth and job creation in some states and sectors. However, “the uptick would be short-lived, as the legislation’s deeper cuts in funding for health insurance and job losses begin and then accelerate.”
The state-by-state analysis finds that passage of the AHCA would lead to job losses in all parts of the country. The 10 states that would lose the most jobs by 2026, according to the research, include: New York (86,000 jobs lost), Pennsylvania (85,000), Florida (83,000), Michigan (51,000), Illinois (46,000), New Jersey (42,000), Ohio (42,000), North Carolina (41,000), California (32,000), and Tennessee (28,000). But even smaller states, like West Virginia (10,200) and Maine (10,000), would be affected.
The report concludes that health-sector employment would fall immediately in 2018 in 17 states: Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
“The losses would continue for all the states, up to a total of 725,000 jobs by 2026. Hospitals, health systems, clinics, and pharmacies might be forced to close or lay off staff as federal funding for health care is cut and the number of uninsured patients grows. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says the AHCA would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 23 million by 2026.”