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Report: Repeal Would Offset NY Uptick In Enrollments For Affordable Care Act

Affordable Care Act

It’s no secret that Republicans, ascendant in Washington, want to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. A new study says millions of people nationally and in New York could stand to lose their health insurance with even a partial repeal of the ACA.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced Wednesday that by this week's deadline,  6.4 million people have chosen Affordable Care Act health plans — up 400,000 from one year ago.  According to a new paper by the Washington think tank the Urban Institute, even a partial repeal would increase the numbers of New York's uninsured by 75 percent.  

The Empire Center’s health policy analyst Bill Hammond says New York's Medicaid program greatly expanded under Obamacare. "My finding is that New York potentially could be hurt more by Obamacare repeal than any other state except California."

While acknowledging existing shortcomings in the law, advocates warn repealing the ACA would also greatly impact the individual insurance market set up for people who pay the premiums themselves.

Elizabeth Benjamin, with the Community Service Society of New York, says a repeal would deeply affect young New Yorkers. "For the first time, we can almost taste having almost all kids in New York state insured, and to rewind the tape is just one giant step backward for New York's children."

Since 2010, the rate of uninsured children in the state has dropped to just 2.5 percent. Governor Andrew Cuomo weighed in earlier this month, telling reporters: "I want to wait and see what the president-elect actually does, and what the Congress has an appetite to do, and then we’ll respond accordingly. But it could have dire consequences for states like New York."

Joan Alker, director of Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families, says nationally, almost 30 million people, mostly in working families, will lose their insurance if Obamacare is repealed, and the number of uninsured children would double. "For children in New York, the uninsured rate would jump up from the current 2.9 percent to 5.7 percent in 2019 if the ACA is repealed. that would mean 130,000 children would lose coverage, and it would also have a significant impact on many parents' coverage as well. And that's very problematic. When kids and families don't have access to insurance, their economic security is compromised, as they're exposed to potentially large medical bills, and of course their health is compromised. And we know for children that kids who have insurance do better in school, have higher high school graduation rates and get better jobs when they grow up. So this is a vitally important issue, and we've reached a historic low of uninsured kids in the country, at 95 per cent, and New York's doing even better than that. So that's something we should all be proud of, and we really need to be very careful about turning backwards on this progress."

She hopes that Congress will negotiate a replacement plan before they "create chaos by repealing what's in place."

According to the report, the elimination of the Medicaid expansion, premium tax credits and cost-sharing would send federal spending on health care into a downward spiral, falling some $109 billion by 2019, leaving huge gaps in the health-care safety net.

The report (click here to read or download PDF) estimates that a repeal of the ACA would cost New York state alone $57 billion in lost federal Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program dollars over 10 years. 

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