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How an ACA Repeal Could Impact Seniors

How an ACA Repeal Could Impact Seniors

On January 20, our country moved into a new era. The installation of the Trump Administration is accompanied by the anticipation of considerable change ahead—including the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). There has been much debate regarding whether a repeal would occur with or without a replacement program, and that has yet to be determined. In an effort to predict what impact a repeal without replacement might have, professors in the Master of Public Health program at The Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University published the findings of a recent study with The Commonwealth Fund. In “Repealing Federal Health Reform: Economic and Employment Consequences for States,” the authors examined the possible implications of an ACA repeal. Here, we provide an overview of the findings and what impact they may have on seniors.

Report Snapshot

The goal of the report was to determine state-level effects on employment and economic activity if the ACA were to be repealed with no replacement policy included. The authors predict that such a repeal would likely start with cutting insurance premium tax credits and the expansion of Medicaid eligibility. According to the report, “Research shows that the loss of these two provisions would lead to a doubling of the number of uninsured, higher uncompensated care costs for providers, and higher taxes for low-income Americans.”  

Specifically, the report cites an anticipated $140 billion loss in federal funding for health care in 2019, leading to the loss of 2.6 million jobs across the country. In addition, it notes that if a replacement plan is not implemented, there will be “a cumulative $1.5 trillion loss in gross state products and a $2.6 trillion reduction in business output from 2019 to 2023.” It’s anticipated that health care providers would be particularly hard hit by funding cuts.

The ACA and Seniors

Many seniors have found great benefit in the ACA. The law created a stronger Medicare benefit, offered a range of free preventive services, and provided discounts on drugs for those in the coverage gap.

Under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion provision, eligibility for the benefit was expanded to those with annual incomes of up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. This expansion of Medicaid meant that more seniors could be eligible for the benefit along with Medicare—providing an additional means of paying for health care services. In all, the ACA provided more seniors with access to the quality health care coverage they needed.

The Impact of a Repeal

Although the final status of the ACA is unknown at this point, repealing the law without an effective replacement could have significant consequences for seniors who have come to rely on its benefits. This is especially true for dually enrolled individuals who are counting on benefits from both Medicare and Medicaid to ensure that their health care needs are met.

In addition, as the study authors note, health care providers will be hit hard by funding cuts if they aren’t compensated through an alternative plan. This could have major implications for seniors when it comes to access and the availability of quality care.