ASU professor’s study finds Obamacare repeal could cause health care recession

Feb 9, 2017, 3:07 PM

(Photo: Johanna Huckeba/Cronkite News)...

(Photo: Johanna Huckeba/Cronkite News)

(Photo: Johanna Huckeba/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – A new report from an Arizona State University professor predicts that repealing Obamacare could cut Arizona jobs and send the state into a “health care recession.”

Lee McPheters, a research professor of economics, discussed the findings of his January study in a conference call Wednesday.

Since 1995, one out of every five new payroll jobs came from the health care sector, according to the study. “It’s the only industry in Arizona to grow uninterrupted since 1965,” McPheters said.

If the federal government repeals the health care law, the study suggested it would cost nearly half of all of Arizona’s job losses in 2018.

President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers have made repealing the Affordable Care Act a top priority. In January, Trump’s first executive order directed government agencies to scale back aspects of the health care law, according to The New York Times.

Without Obamacare, the study said Arizona will lose revenue from Medicaid expansion funds and insurance premium tax credits.

First, the health care sector will cut jobs and reduce salaries, the study said. Health care companies will limit purchases from suppliers and halt new construction. And when people don’t work, they don’t spend as much and contribute to the economy.

“Personal income in 2018 will be lower in Arizona by $3.5 billion,” McPheters said.

The study explored two scenarios with varying degrees of cuts to the health care program. In either case, health care job losses would account for 47 percent of all job losses in 2018.

However, many residents support a repeal. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, has called it an “unsustainable system that places an unfair financial burden on families and small businesses,” according to a previous Cronkite News article.

Criticism has been especially sharp in Arizona, where customers faced the steepest premium increases in the nation – 116 percent, according to estimates from Department of Health and Human Services – when this year’s open enrollment period began Nov. 1.

The Department of Health and Human Services reported that about 203,000 people in Arizona obtained coverage through one of the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace plans in 2016.

McPheters said Phoenix and Tucson would most likely have the biggest impact from the repeal, though smaller communities also will feel the impact.

Kimber Lanning, executive director of Arizona Rural Development Council, said the council has had hundreds of smaller companies express concerns over how cuts to the health care act will affect them.

“We’re concerned about care. If they have any of their services reduced, it can affect the well-being of the people they serve,” Lanning said. “Any threat to the sustainability of those communities … is very dangerous.”

Still, McPheters recognizes that other components of the economy will still grow, softening the overall impact of the cuts.

“We aren’t suggesting that the economy will go into some kind of death spin.”

Cronkite News reporter Allie Bice contributed to this article.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Split panel image. Democratic Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton, sponsor of a proposal to repeal Arizon...

Associated Press

Lawmakers in Arizona House allow vote on repealing near-total abortion ban

Arizona lawmakers voted narrowly Wednesday to allow a vote on repealing a near-total abortion ban after three weeks of mounting pressure.

8 minutes ago

Follow @suelenrivera...

SuElen Rivera

Arizona’s oldest predominantly Black community listed on National Register of Historic Places

The Randolph Townsite Historic District located 50 miles southeast of Phoenix was listed as a traditional cultural place.

1 hour ago

File photo of a Valley Metro bus stop sign....

Man stabbed to death at west Phoenix bus stop, no arrest made

A man was stabbed to death at a bus stop near 39th Avenue and Baseline Road in Phoenix on Tuesday night, authorities said.

2 hours ago

File photo of Phoenix police SUVs parked in front of a metal utility pole. A suspect was arrested A...

Arrest made in shooting that led to power outage in Phoenix nearly 3 months ago

A suspect was arrested Tuesday in connection with a fatal shooting that led to a power outage in east Phoenix in February.

3 hours ago

Images show brush fire in Whetstone area in southeastern Arizona. (City of Tombstone Fire Departmen...

SuElen Rivera

Elderly man dies after accidentally starting brush fire in southeastern Arizona

An elderly man died on Tuesday from burn injuries he sustained after he and his son accidentally started a brush fire in southeastern Arizona.

5 hours ago

Follow @KTAR923...

New Maricopa County animal shelter to open soon in Mesa

Maricopa County Animal Care and Control will open the doors to its new East Valley shelter on May 2, officials said.

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

ASU professor’s study finds Obamacare repeal could cause health care recession