Although Massachusetts has historically been a leader when it comes to healthcare coverage, the state is not immune to the effects of national health care policy change.
The Congressional Budget Office released its score of the revised American Health Care Act Wednesday, which estimated that the bill would cause 23 million people across the country to lose their coverage by 2026.
In Massachusetts specifically, despite strong state policies, the effect is still prominent. A new report commissioned by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation and conducted by the Urban Institute projects that about 445,000 Massachusetts residents would lose their coverage if the bill is passed as-is.
The AHCA was passed in the House but still has to go through the Senate, where many expect changes to be proposed. The report analyzes how the current bill would affect the state.
They found that the nearly half a million residents who would become uninsured includes 355,000 adults on MassHealth as well as those using the ConnectorCare program and Affordable Care Act advance tax credits.
The AHCA would mean a loss of $1.4 billion in federal Medicaid funding for Massachusetts alone.
“In order to maintain current levels of MassHealth coverage in 2022, the state would need to identify $1.1 billion in replacement funds or make major changes to the program,” the report found.
The state’s uninsured rate could jump to as high as 10.3 percent, according to the report. Currently only about 3 percent of Massachusetts residents are uninsured.
“The gains in coverage that we have worked so hard for here in Massachusetts could be erased if the AHCA is enacted in its current form,” said Audrey Shelto, president of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, in a statement.
“The study projects an overwhelming loss in federal revenue that if not replaced by state funding, or addressed through significant changes to the existing Medicaid program, could result in a loss of coverage that leaves us worse off than we were prereform in Massachusetts,” she added.
Mayor Marty Walsh spoke out against the AHCA not just for the people of Boston or Massachusetts, but for all city residents as member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
The conference is a nonpartisan organization of cities which have a population of 30,000 or more. Walsh is the chair of the conference’s Children, Health and Human Services Committee.
“Today’s CBO score confirms that the American Health Care Act of 2017 would put millions of people in our cities in jeopardy,” Walsh said in a statement. “The bill throws a one-two punch — stripping 23 million people of their insurance and applying skyrocketing premiums to others, particularly those who can least afford it.”
Walsh said that mayors have a responsibility for the “health and well-being” of their communities. Part of that, he said, is access to healthcare, and without that coverage, he warned, cities will suffer.
“The effects of the AHCA will be felt most heavily at the local level,” he said. “It is our cities and counties that will see increases in indigent care costs for our hospitals, in uninsured rates and uncompensated care costs; and it is our low and moderate income residents who will return to a time of having to choose between healthcare and everyday living expenses.”