Which industry generates more than $7.2 billion in economic activity in the Rochester region? The answer might surprise you – it’s health care. As the president and CEO of the Rochester Regional Healthcare Association, representing 16 hospitals in Upstate New York, I must express our opposition to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act without simultaneous enactment of a replacement plan. Members of the business community must understand that if the ACA is repealed, it could result in $1.4 billion in cuts to Rochester hospitals and have a serious impact on patients, taxpayers and our economy.
ACA repeal and unintended consequences
If repealed without a replacement, millions of patients will lose their health insurance coverage. In Monroe County alone, this would cause financial hardship for more than 75,000 individuals and their families. Subsidies to health insurance companies would disappear, which could force insurers to raise premiums for everyone––including New Yorkers who didn’t sign up for Obamacare.
In addition, New York could lose $5.7 billion annually. Possible consequences could include cutbacks in state programs and services, and county governments could be forced to foot the bill for Medicaid, which could result in higher property taxes. This, despite the fact that for the last five years providers have shown they can deliver high-quality care to Medicaid beneficiaries while using capped spending and delivery system reform to reduce Medicaid expenditures.
Lastly, repealing the ACA could weaken the Rochester economy. Health systems are among the top employers in our area, providing more than 53,000 local jobs. In Greater Rochester, the Finger Lakes region and the Southern Tier, they generate $7.2 billion in economic activity and provide localities with more than $807 million in tax dollars. All told, they deliver $469 million in community benefits and investments to those in need.
If repeal without replacement occurred, hospitals would have to absorb the costs of uninsured patients who arrive at emergency rooms seeking care at a time when the average hospital operating margin in New York is already the second worst in the nation—1.3 percent, compared with a 6.4 percent national average.
The risks of repealing the ACA without a plan to take its place are just too great. Therefore, we strongly urge lawmakers to combine efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act with a simultaneous replacement plan that sustains and supports the health care system in New York.
Travis Heider is president and CEO of the Rochester Regional Healthcare Association, a nonprofit association whose membership is comprised of 16 hospitals and their related health systems in eight counties.
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