by Joanne Spetz and Bianca Frogner
It remains unclear whether or not Republicans agree on a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, exactly what a replacement plan would look like, and when a replacement would be implemented. However, repealing the law with no viable replacement could lead to millions of lost job opportunities throughout the US, on top of the loss of health insurance for millions of people.
A Commonwealth Fund report projects that Obamacare repeal will result in a loss of 2.6 million jobs. This falls in line with projections we released in a 2015 study in the International Journal of Health Economics and Management. In that study we projected that the health care industry would need three to four million additional workers by 2022, in particular in the ambulatory care sector and home health care. We projected that 40 percent of these new jobs would be related to an increase in health care demand from the ACA. The impact on California in particular could be greater than other states, according to this Politifact story that quotes Spetz.
In addition, repeal would mean the loss of more than 40 workforce provisions detailed in the Affordable Care Act, such as training grants, employee retention programs and innovative programs for education.
In our study, we predicted that the future health care workforce will be increasingly female and racially/ethnically diverse. As Republicans get ready to potentially end the expansion of Medicaid to low-income, uninsured individuals and federal premium tax credits for low-to-moderate-income people, it will be essential to remember who gets left behind.
About Joanne Spetz: Joanne Spetz, PhD is the associate director of research at Healthforce Center at UCSF. In addition, Dr. Spetz is a professor at the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, Department of Family and Community Medicine, and the School of Nursing at UCSF. Dr. Spetz’s research focuses on the economics of the health care workforce.
About Bianca Frogner: Bianca Frogner, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine and director of the Center for Health Workforce Studies at the University of Washington. She is a NIH-trained health economist with expertise in health workforce, labor economics, health spending, health insurance, international health systems and welfare reform.