Let's get one thing out of the way: By almost every expert analysis, the American Health Care Act is a moral nightmare that will seriously harm the poor and defenseless. Cutting $880 billion from Medicaid will bankrupt families and strip coverage from 200,000 poor black and Hispanic children in Florida. That should be reason enough not to support it.
Florida's Republican lawmakers have already shown they won't vote against the AHCA on moral qualms alone. Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart voted for the House version of the American Health Care Act because they're willing to trade a few dead cancer patients to boost the state health-care economy. Ditto Gov. Rick Scott, who supports the AHCA.
But would the GOP's Obamacare repeal actually boost Florida's economy? In fact, a new study suggests the opposite: A George Washington University analysis estimates that 83,000 jobs will vanish from the Florida economy by 2026 if the AHCA passes. The Obamacare repeal would also axe the state's Gross State Economic Product by a staggering $8.6 billion in that same timeframe. Those losses are expected to continue past 2026 if legislators don't change anything by then.
"By 2026, 924,000 fewer people would have jobs" at the national level, the study warns. "Gross state products would drop by $93 billion and business output would be $148 billion lower. These downward trends would continue after 2026."
According to the report, Florida stands to take the third-worst job hit in the nation, after only New York and Pennsylvania. In most states, Florida included, job rates and economic output would likely rise within the first few years of the bill's implementation, because coverage-related spending wouldn't quite keep up with the AHCA's tax repeals. The job cuts would come directly from lost funding to the health-care industry and indirectly because consumers spend less on goods when health coverage becomes more expensive.
In Florida's case, the AHCA is expected to raise the job rate sharply in 2018 and 2019, and then things will level off in 2020. From 2021 on, the state can expect massive, sustained losses that will likely wipe out any of the aforementioned gains and then some.
The same is true of the state domestic product, which could drop by a half-billion or more each year, beginning in 2021, eventually dropping by $8.6 billion. Business output would also drop by $14 billion. (Both of those stats are also the third-worst estimates in the nation behind New York and Pennsylvania.)
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Health-care jobs would take a huge hit in Florida too, the study warns. Of the 83,000 jobs expected to vanish in Florida, 53,000 are estimated to come from the health industry. That's the second-worst rate, behind only New York. Given the fact that Rick Scott is a former hospital executive obsessed with the state unemployment rate, his bald scalp might fold in upon itself once he reads the job numbers for a bill he's been promoting all over the country.
The figures ought to be printed out and hand-delivered to Sen. Marco Rubio's office every day until the Senate votes on whatever its secret version of the AHCA turns out to be. Rubio has already intimated he doesn't care about the basic humanity of the bill: He previously said the 23 million people estimated to lose insurance are just a "small percentage" of the population. But he's more likely to be swayed by the economics, which are unremittingly terrible.
And this fact should surprise nobody: Health-care costs are the single biggest driver of personal bankruptcy, and it makes sense that, as coverage grows more expensive, the poor and middle classes will be left with much less money to spend on the sorts of TVs, cable subscriptions, and steak dinners that drive growth. Death and bankruptcy aren't good for the economy.