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In Michigan, GOP healthcare plan would hit hospitals, poor hardest, says policy expert

A hospital emergency room entrance.
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Is a health care emergency coming in 2014?

You'll be able to buy the health care insurance plan you want. Premiums will be lower. Everyone will be covered. Access to quality, affordable care will improve.

Those promises from President Donald Trump and Republican leaders like Speaker Paul Ryan seem less likely after a report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
The report breaks down the projected costs of the GOP plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. In the words of Louisiana GOP Senator Bill Cassidy:

"Can't sugarcoat it. Doesn't look good. The CBO score was, shall we say, an eye-popper."

Dr. John Ayanian directs the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation at the University of Michigan. He's also a professor of internal medicine, public health and public policy.

Ayanian joined Stateside to help explain what the future may hold if the Republicans' American Health Care Act (AHCA) is passed.  

The CBO estimates the GOP replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will, by 2026, cause the number of uninsured Americans to grow by 24 million. And a big chunk of that increase, 14 million, would come from Medicaid enrollees, as the Republican plan cuts into the ACA's Medicaid expansion.

"This will basically reverse all the gains in coverage that we've achieved since 2014 when Medicaid was expanded in 31 states across the country, including here in Michigan where it's known as the Healthy Michigan plan," Ayanian said. "And then the coverage that people have gotten through the marketplace exchanges, the subsidized private coverage. That will also be reduced."

The CBO also reports the plan would reduce the federal deficit by $337 billion over 10 years. This is something that Republican leaders have trumpeted in recent days, but Ayanian said $337 billion isn't as big as one might think.

"Those are actually very small savings when you realize that the federal budget each year is about $4 trillion," Ayanian said. "So, those savings over a 10-year period would be less than 1% of federal spending and we're giving up 24 million Americans being covered by insurance, so that's a very substantial trade-off in coverage for a very small amount of savings."

Listen to the full interview above to hear how the AHCA would impact Michigan hospitals and how it could be especially hard on the state's low-income people.

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Stateside is produced daily by a dedicated group of producers and production assistants. Listen daily, on-air, at 3 and 8 p.m., or subscribe to the daily podcast wherever you like to listen.
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