Repealing Medicaid expansion could leave 10 percent of N.J. residents without coverage

Elizabeth Connolly

Elizabeth Connolly

Health care activists in New Jersey worry President-elect Donald Trump will urge Congress to repeal the expansion of Medicaid that occurred under the Affordable Care Act.

Ray Castro, an analyst with New Jersey Policy Perspective, said about 10 percent of New Jersey adults would lose their health coverage if Medicare expansion is repealed.

“The maximum income eligibility for a single individual is $15,800. That’s about $8.50 an hour. That’s close to the minimum wage,” he said Monday. “So, if they lose their coverage, they’re not going to really have the opportunity to purchase insurance on their own.”

Neil Eicher with the New Jersey Hospital Association said that will make it tough on hospitals.

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“When you provide more preventive care to this population, they’re less likely to show up in the emergency room,” Eicher said. “Sending those individuals back to the emergency room for the care is not only bad for the patients but also puts a great strain on hospitals — and certainly adds costs to our health care system.”

A repeal means the state would lose billions in federal funds, Castro said.

“The economic impact would be about $4 billion in our state, and that would result in the loss of thousands of jobs,” he said. “Since the Medicaid expansion started, there’s been about 24,000 jobs created in our state in the health care field and many of those would be jeopardized.”

Castro said there would also be an impact on the state budget.

“It’s about a $470 million loss to the state in the budget and that’s going to have to be replaced one way or another or we’re going to have to cut even more services,” he said.

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