How Losing Obamacare Impacts Ohio If Court Tosses It Out
President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, will likely be confirmed by the Republican-led Senate – just in time for an upcoming case that will consider, for the third time, whether the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is constitutional.
Barrett has previously written that she opposes the health care law, and some wonder whether the Court’s conservative majority would move to overturn Obamacare altogether.
That would have a major impact on Ohioans, according to health care policy analysts.
“Every evaluation of the program has been positive,” said John Corlett, president of the Cleveland-based Center for Community Solutions. “We know it saved lives, we know it made people healthier, we know it boosted the economy and created jobs in the state.”
Corlett estimates roughly 700,000 Ohioans have become insured under the ACA. The law also allowed the state to expand its Medicaid program and combat public health crises such as the opioid epidemic, Corlett said.
“That epidemic would have been so much worse [without the ACA],” he said. “We used it to finance drug treatment and mental health services for people who otherwise had no coverage and couldn’t have accessed those services.”
If the law is overturned, Corlett said hundreds of thousands of Ohioans could lose coverage, and people who have private insurance would have to pay more because of that, he said.
While the law has been upheld by the Supreme Court twice in the past, Corlett is worried about the law’s future if the Court increases its conservative majority, he said.
“We’ve been down this road before, but this seems really serious,” he said.
Not everyone agrees that the law will be overturned entirely.
Rea Hederman, vice president of policy at conservative think-tank Buckeye Institute, is doubtful that the Court will overturn the law because it has been upheld twice before, he said.
“This seems to be a cleaner argument, in some ways, than the original argument, and [Chief] Justice [John] Roberts is probably not going to reverse himself,” Hederman said.
The court may, however, repeal parts of the ACA, such as the individual mandate, which is the penalty for those who opt to not be insured, Hederman said.
State officials such as Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine have the power to implement some of those policies if they are repealed, he said.
“Insurance regulation has traditionally been in the framework of states, and so if Gov. DeWine says he wants to protect pre-existing conditions, even if the ACA has gone away, he has the power to work to do that with Ohio insurance companies,” Hederman said.
Hederman does not think Ohio’s economy will be greatly impacted if the law is removed, he said.
“You could see certain insurance products become cheaper so that probably could increase a demand for certain health services,” Hederman said. “On the other hand, you might have some people losing some types of coverage, so the effects would probably wash out.”
Corlett, however, argues that the state’s healthcare sector has grown due to the ACA, so the economy would take a hit if it is overturned, he said.
“I think it would be likely that we would see some hospitals close in the state, maybe, particularly, rural hospitals who already have a hard time staying in business and operating,” he said. “A lot of health care providers have already put employees on furlough, reduced hours, things like that. I think we would see that trend escalated, and I think we would see more layoffs.”
The Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments for the Obamacare case Nov. 10., just one week after the U.S. presidential election.