The passage of the American Health Care Act could ultimately result in significant job loss and economic output, as the projected loss of health insurance for 23 million people by 2026 could recreate a ripple effect through the rest of the economy, according to a study by The Commonwealth Fund, “The American Health Care Act: Economic and Employment Consequences for States.”
While the AHCA’s tax repeal would initially bolster economic activity, leading to 864,000 more jobs in 2018, the multiplier effect of reduced federal spending on health care could cause negative economic effects, according to the study.
By 2026, 924,000 jobs could be lost -- most in the health care sector, gross state products could be $93 billion lower, and business output could be $148 billion less. States which expanded Medicaid could experience faster and deeper economic losses.
The authors concede their analysis has many limitations, including whether the Senate would enact an alternative health care law, or whether other types of legislation -- such as an infrastructure or trade bill -- would increase economic growth and employment.
“These projections, like others, are fraught with uncertainty,” the authors write. “Economic, technical, or policy changes could alter results. In particular, the AHCA grants substantial discretion to states, such as in Medicaid expansions, waivers of federal regulations, and use of new funds like the Patient and State Stability Fund.”
NBC News writes that health care jobs are “an enormous part” of the U.S. economy, accounting for 18 percent of the total gross domestic product. But even if the GOP effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act fails, NBC News writes health care spending is still likely to grow, citing a June 13 report by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Under the AHCA, federal spending on health care would still grow to 19.9 percent, according to CMS -- while federal spending growth under the ACA would only be slightly higher -- by 0.2 percentage points.
While federal spending on health care is projected to be lower under the AHCA, state and local government spending on health care would be higher, as would household spending, the CMS writes.