CourierPostOnline

NJ To Lose Billions If ACA Repealed, Groups Say

Courier-Post — February 20, 2017

Written by
Kim Mulford

New Jersey stands to lose more than $4 billion in annual federal funding if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, according to a report released Tuesday by New Jersey Policy Perspective.

More than 1 million New Jerseyans could lose their health benefits, including 550,000 low-income residents, the report found. And more than 200,000 older residents and people with disabilities could lose prescription assistance, since the health law closed the gap in Medicare coverage.

Repeal threatens every community, said Maura Collinsgru, health care program director for New Jersey Citizen Action and the convener of the New Jersey For Health Care coalition.

"There is no one exempt," Collinsgru said. "The loss of federal funds, jobs and coverage losses will harm not only already struggling families — it will strain resources of state, county and local governments."

Nearly everyone benefits from the law's protections, but low-income residents who gained coverage through the Medicaid expansion would be affected the most, said Raymond Castro, a senior policy analyst at N.J. Policy Perspective and author of the report.

Based on a report last month by The Commonwealth Fund and on a 2009 study of uninsured people, Castro also estimated 86,000 jobs would be lost and more than 700 people would die without insurance coverage.

"The more we learn about the proposed repeal of the ACA, the more we discover just how harmful it would be, particularly at the local level," Castro said.

The report offers a county-by-county look at the estimated effects:

The law's repeal would have a "tremendous ripple effect" on local hospitals, explained Peter A. Kaprielyan, vice president of government and external relations for Inspira Health Network.

He estimated Inspira will lose $30 million a year through lost Medicaid reimbursement if the expansion is repealed. The health system operates three hospitals serving Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem counties.

"Nonprofit hospitals with emergency departments and behavioral health services are the safety nets for those without insurance," Kaprielyan said. "Where do they have to go but to a place that will accept everybody?"

New Jersey Citizen Action and its coalition partners are appealing to county and local officials to pass a resolution urging federal lawmakers to preserve gains in health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, Collinsgru said. So far, four counties have adopted such resolution — Hudson, Mercer, Essex and Union - and three more, including Burlington, are weighing the proposal.

Burlington County freeholders are reviewing a resolution, but haven't added it to any meeting agendas, said county spokesman Eric Arpert.

U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur, whose district includes Burlington County, was the only Republican from New Jersey to vote against a budget resolution last month that marked the first step toward the law's repeal. He has also been the target of weekly protests at his Marlton office.

"There is no question that our country's health care system is broken and needs to be repaired," MacArthur said Tuesday in a released statement. "For me, this issue is not about politics — it's about people — which is why I voted to slow down the process of repealing Obamacare. We must be sure no one is left behind as we work to fix our health care system."

U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, whose district includes 92 municipalities in South Jersey, did not comment on the report, but his chief of staff, Jason Galanes, said the Republican met for an hour with 12 representatives from New Jersey Citizen Action on Friday.

The only topic they discussed was the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act and its effect on New Jersey.

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