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Obamacare: Floridians lose most, $5.2B, if subsidies end, study says

Florida and its Obamacare customers have the most to lose — more than $5.2 billion — of any state in the country if Congress and the incoming Trump administration pull the plug on government subsidies that make monthly health premiums more affordable, according to a study released Wednesday.

That’s about $305 per subsidized Florida customer per month, the Kaiser Family Foundation said.

The $5.2 billion in jeopardized government premium aid ranks above even California ($4.6 billion) and Texas ($3 billion), the study found.

“I don’t think Floridians knew how severe repeal of Obamacare would be on the economic front, let alone the individual suffering that would occur,” said Mark Pafford, former Democratic minority leader in the state legislature from West Palm Beach. “This would be a huge disaster for Florida.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott had no comment on the report through a spokeswoman, but he has made the case that his state and the country can do better than a system that relies so heavily on taxpayer support.

“The Washington insiders like to say that Obamacare cannot be repealed, it can only be modified,” the GOP governor wrote in an opinion piece for USA Today. “That’s absurd, just like all the other stuff they tell you can’t be done in Washington. We are Americans and we can do anything we set our minds to. Donald Trump is bringing that can-do attitude with him to Washington.”

He and other repeal supporters have outlined guiding principles, such as removing the individual mandate to buy insurance and giving states more control, but details have been limited on what might replace the health law.

In all, nearly 30 million individuals nationwide will lose coverage if Congress cuts off money for the Affordable Care Act through the budget reconciliation process, another analysis released Wednesday by the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center found.

Of the 29.8 million newly uninsured, 22.5 million people will lose coverage by 2019 through elimination of premium tax credits, Medicaid expansion, and the individual mandate to buy insurance or pay a penalty, the report said. An additional 7.3 million people would become uninsured because of the near collapse of the non-group insurance market, researchers projected.

On Tuesday, the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals warned congressional leaders that repealing Obamacare without a replacement plan ready would cause a net negative impact on hospitals of $165.8 billion.

“Losses of this magnitude cannot be sustained and will adversely impact patients’ access to care, decimate hospitals’ and health systems’ ability to provide services, weaken local economies that hospitals help sustain and grow, and result in massive job losses,” the letter said.

Donald Trump’s campaign promises to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act have worried consumers like Seth Scott of Greenacres, The Palm Beach Post reported. He has leukemia, but has to wait to see what happens next.

“Not knowing is the worst,” he said. “It’s terrible.”

More than 1.5 million Floridians get health coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplace, the most in any state using the federal exchange, About nine in 10 of those Floridians get subsidies in the form of tax credits designed to make premiums more affordable. About eight in 10 pay $75 or less per month in premiums.

The incoming administration’s transition website says: “A Trump Administration will work with Congress to repeal the ACA and replace it with a solution that includes Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and returns the historic role in regulating health insurance to the States. The Administration’s goal will be to create a patient-centered healthcare system that promotes choice, quality and affordability with health insurance and healthcare, and take any needed action to alleviate the burdens imposed on American families and businesses by the law.”

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