In Brief: Repealing Obamacare Will Wreck Some Towns and Cities (Updated)

Yesterday, NPR did a story on Steubenville, Ohio, a former coal town in the eastern part of the state. The unemployment rate of 7% is above the state and national numbers, and the entire area now relies on another industry for a great many of its jobs: health care. Yeah, Trinity Health System "provides about 1,500 full-time jobs and close to 500 part-time jobs, more than Jefferson County's top 10 manufacturing companies combined."

Jefferson County has a lot of pretty damn poor people and a sadly not unexpected problem with opioid addiction. So the Medicaid expansion was important to the physical health of the region, as well as the financial. If the Republicans get to slash Medicaid in the way it wants to, it'll screw up people's lives in Steubenville in more ways than just medically. A quarter of the private sector jobs in the town are in health care-related fields, with a bunch more dependent on the spending of those workers. In a place teetering on the brink of desperation, gutting Medicaid funding will push it over the edge.

When the military said it didn't need any more M1 Abrams tanks, which are built in Lima, Ohio, the budget passed by Congress last year contained a half-billion dollars for more tanks. One of the main reasons was the economic blow that central Ohio would take if that funding was cut or sent elsewhere. If we can do it for weapons, we can do it for lives.

Because, see, despite all evidence to the contrary, Republicans insist on calling the Affordable Care Act a "job-killer." But it's very specifically a job creator, and the money that has come into many smaller cities and towns has been a life preserver in the number of workers that hospitals and other medical facilities have had to employ. This goes up and down the economic ladder, from maintenance people to doctors.

In 2015, the New York Times looked at several communities that are surviving because of hospitals that have been flourishing due to the expanded access to medical care under the ACA. Beatrice, Nebraska, the Community Hospital and Health Center is the biggest employer in the area. The same goes for Batesville, Indiana; Centreville, Mississippi; and many more. To put it simply, the only reason a good many people even have jobs in those places is because of the ACA and Barack Obama, the man they were told to despise.

The cuts that most Republicans want will wreck these towns and counties. It's one more effect of the active cruelty of their bill. It's one more way that Democrats should be riling voters up about what the GOP wants to do to them. Start with going after Representative Bill Johnson of Ohio's 6th district, where Steubenville is.

And, yes, every town mentioned here voted for Donald Trump, who lied and promised them the sky and can only give them dust.

Update: The Commonwealth Fund looked at the potential impact of the House bill on employment. Despite an initial uptick in jobs created, the full effect of the bill would be an economic hit that might help put us in a recession: "By 2026, 924,000 jobs would be lost, gross state products would be $93 billion lower, and business output would be $148 billion less. About three-quarters of jobs lost (725,000) would be in the health care sector. States which expanded Medicaid would experience faster and deeper economic losses."

Also, the cuts to Medicaid and the insurance exemptions that will be allowed in the House and the Senate ACA-killing bills would "devastate" rural communities due to loss of nursing homes, clinics, and hospitals, as well as a lack of care for people addicted to opioids. "The combined impact of these losses—health insurance coverage, addiction treatment, jobs, and the threats to economic drivers such as hospitals and nursing homes—will most certainly lead to further hardship in communities throughout the United States," David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund, writes.