The Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare”, is scheduled to be fully implemented in 2014 unless a new president and congress can repeal it within the next year. On both sides of the aisle there’s plenty of argument about whether or not the coming regulations will be good for the industry. One question that continues to be asked is whether or not Obamacare will cause the loss of healthcare jobs.
It will if you believe a recent report from the Auburn Citizen in central New York. The Citizen ran a story reporting on U.S. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle attacking fellow representative Dan Maffei and his support for the Affordable Care Act in 2010. According to Buerkle, the recent decision by a local hospital to lay off 25 workers can be directly attributed to the legislation and a fear of pending cuts in Medicare reimbursements. The Citizen story says the 25 layoffs bring the total number in the local area to 300.
It’s interesting that the topic of healthcare jobs didn’t get much play in the debate leading up to the passage and signing of Obamacare. It was all about providing cheap, comprehensive healthcare to everyone in the country regardless of need and/or financial status. Yet hidden in the fine details, according to the Citizen and other sources, is the very real threat of significant funding cuts.
Short and Long-Term Effects
Overall Obamacare shouldn’t have a drastic effect on healthcare jobs in the short term. For every facility that cuts workers because of Medicare reductions, other facilities will be hiring them to keep up with the demand created by millions of new clients being added to the healthcare roles. But if the fears about Obamacare turn out to be correct, healthcare jobs will be affected negatively in the long run.
Opponents of Obamacare cite the Canadian and British models of healthcare as proof. In those countries healthcare funding is stretched to its absolute limit with no means to stretch it any further. So despite long wait times, understaffed clinics and hospitals, and general healthcare disarray no one can afford to hire more healthcare workers.
To be fair, the systems in both Canada and the UK both have a good number of healthcare job openings at the current time. But most of them are for low-paying jobs with not enough stability to make them worthwhile. Healthcare professionals in both of those countries decry their working conditions, their compensation, and the quality of care they are dispense. Doctors even struck over the summer to secure better pay.
No One Really Knows
No matter which side of the argument you’re on, no one really knows what the future of America’s health care system is going to be. We can’t even look at the Canadian and British models for comparison because:
1. We’re only getting half the truth from both sides of the argument.
2. Our economic and political systems are significantly different.
3. Our attitudes about healthcare and its delivery are also different.
In the end we just have to decide whether or not to repeal the Affordable Care Act and start over, or let it happen and hope for the best. I’m inclined to side with the first option, but not because of the threat to healthcare jobs. I’m inclined to repeal the law because past history demonstrates the U.S. government cannot do anything efficiently and effectively. If they can’t even manage the Postal Service, Amtrak, and Social Security, how on earth are they going to manage the health care system?