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Repeal of Obamacare would cost Valley more jobs than those lost to drought, study says

The San Joaquin Valley has enrolled a greater percentage of its low-income population in the expanded Medi-Cal program under the Affordable Care Act than many other regions of the state, a UC Berkeley researcher says. In the Valley, 11.2 percent of the population have been enrolled compared to 9.4 percent statewide.
The San Joaquin Valley has enrolled a greater percentage of its low-income population in the expanded Medi-Cal program under the Affordable Care Act than many other regions of the state, a UC Berkeley researcher says. In the Valley, 11.2 percent of the population have been enrolled compared to 9.4 percent statewide. Vida en el Valle file

A University of California blog post Tuesday says a repeal of Obamacare would cost the San Joaquin Valley an estimated 24,000 jobs – which is more than were lost statewide in 2015 because of the drought.

Repealing the Affordable Care Act would result in 17,000 fewer jobs from a reduced demand and funding for health care services, said the UC Berkeley Labor Center for Labor Research.

And the health care job losses would affect other industries, such as restaurants, real estate, insurance brokerages and employment services, the center said. “Healthcare workers would spend less at local businesses, creating a ripple effect of job loss throughout all industries, leading to a total job loss of 24,000.”

To put the Valley’s potential health care job loss in perspective: In 2015, the drought caused a loss of 21,000 jobs – about half in agriculture and the rest in other industries, the researchers said.

The magnitude of the job loss is quite concerning.

Laurel Lucia, UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education

Statewide, UC Berkeley researchers estimate 209,000 jobs would be lost from a repeal of the health care law.

“The magnitude of the job loss is quite concerning,” says Laurel Lucia, lead author of the December 2016 UC Berkeley study, “California’s Projected Economic Losses Under Repeal of the ACA.”

President-elect Donald Trump has pledged he would come up with a health care system he says will be better than Obamacare, and Republicans on Capital Hill are readying to vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Lucia said Tuesday that she was surprised that a repeal of the Affordable Care Act “would have a greater impact on the San Joaquin Valley than the drought had in terms of jobs loss.”

The estimated jobs and economic losses for counties in the central San Joaquin Valley:

▪ 6,000 jobs and $516 million in economic losses in Fresno County.

▪ 600 jobs and $44 million in economic losses in Kings County.

▪ 700 jobs and $56 million in economic losses in Madera County.

▪ 2,000 jobs and $129 million in economic losses in Merced County.

▪ 3,000 jobs and $193 million in economic losses in Tulare County.

The Valley has among the highest unemployment rates in the state at 8.8 percent compared to 5.3 percent statewide, and Lucia says in the study: “Just as San Joaquin Valley residents cannot afford the loss of health insurance that would occur under ACA repeal, the region cannot afford the loss of 24,000 jobs.”

And there are other potential effects from a repeal of the health care law, Lucia says.

The Valley has enrolled a greater percentage of its low-income population in the expanded Medi-Cal program under the Affordable Care Act than many other regions of the state, she says. In the Valley, 11.2 percent of the population has been enrolled compared to 9.4 percent statewide.

“The Valley has a lot more to lose in terms of the health insurance losses and jobs due to the decrease in federal funding,” Lucia said.

Barbara Anderson: 559-441-6310, @beehealthwriter

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