Mooney Sees Blow to the Economy if the ACA Is Gutted
William M. Mooney, Jr., President and CEO of the Westchester County Association, submitted the following op-ed to the Journal News. It was published on Sunday, May 7, 2017. Mooney is a former banker.
THE ACA REPEAL NEEDS A DOCTOR Most people are surprised when we say “Be careful what you wish for” as it relates to the repeal of the ACA, also known as Obamacare. I would say Congress should not repeal it. Coming from a businessman, that may seem surprising. So why am I being so cautious? I’m thinking of Westchester.
First of all, if the ACA is repealed, New York State will be at risk of losing close to four billion dollars in lost Medicaid reimbursement under the proposed Medicaid reduction or block funding. This impacts not only health care providers but every single New Yorker. To keep Medicaid funding whole, the lost ACA dollars will have to come from program cuts elsewhere and/or increases in our taxes. Many people think that Medicaid only impacts the underserved in our state, yet nearly everyone has a family member who receives long-term care through a Medicaid-funded facility. In fact, about 79% of Medicaid funding in NY State goes for care of the elderly and the disabled. The cuts will affect us all.
Second, the dominant business infrastructure in our region is health care and the life sciences. We’re talking about fifteen billion dollars of cash flow and almost 50,000 workers! Clearly a loss of close to $4 billion dollars would have an enormous negative impact on the economies of Westchester, New York City, as well as other regions of the state. Do we really want layoffs instead of the unprecedented growth we are enjoying? And do we really want our underserved populations to be left without health insurance?
If the ACA is repealed, maybe our insurance rates will get better, maybe not. That’s a matter of debate. To me, the real culprits here are not the government and the ACA, but the five companies that insure over 100 million people. Can you imagine what it would be like if we only had five banks or five energy companies? We would be screaming about lack of choice.
The facts are pretty simple. Just look at what these five insurance companies have done since 2010 when the ACA was implemented. Managed care companies have seen nearly 300% in growth compared with the overall S&P growth of 135.6%. As was noted by New York Post columnist Jonathon Trugman: “Health insurance companies are clerical paper-pushers. They never examine a patient or discover a new medicine to treat illness. They do not perform lifesaving surgery. They merely collect premiums in advance, and, if and when they want, they reimburse providers at a rate that they decide.” The bottom line is that insurance companies are not in business to keep you healthy; they’re in business to make a profit.
Think about how many of us have serious problems dealing with the cost of our insurance premiums and getting insurers to pay claims. What decisions do you think they make when Grandma is trying to place a claim for surgery, and the person making that decision answers to shareholders first? Pretty shocking isn’t it. It almost makes Wall Street look like a not-for-profit industry. And by the way, these insurance firms are very generous to our government friends.
So, regardless of what Washington does, we could wind up the losers and the insurance companies could walk away the winners -- counting their loot all the way to the bank! To my mind this is where the abuse starts and ends and we need to address the root of the problem.