GOP health plan would cost Mass. at least $1b, Baker says

By: Martin Finucan

The Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act would cost Massachusetts at least $1 billion in reduced federal aid, beginning in 2020, and even more in the future, according to Governor Charlie Baker.

Baker’s estimate came in a letter Tuesday to the state’s congressional delegation in which he shared his administration’s analysis of the effects of the controversial House GOP bill’s impact on the state.

“Overall, our analysis indicates that the [bill] would increasingly strain the fiscal resources necessary to support the Commonwealth’s continued commitment to universal health care coverage,” the Republican governor said.

Baker said that his administration estimated that the revenue hit would be at least $1 billion in 2020, $1.3 billion in 2021, and $1.5 billion in 2022, with an even higher impact in the following years. He said the numbers were developed after applying assumptions from the March 13 report on the bill’s impacts by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

He also said there were other “key areas of concern” that “could further impact the Comonwealth’s budget.”

Congressional Republicans are hoping to ram through the new bill, titled the American Health Care Act, in a vote on Thursday. Some changes were announced late Monday to the bill to address concerns, including help for older Americans who could see major premium increases.

It wasn’t clear if the recent changes would affect the estimates developed by the Baker administration.

President Trump headed to Capitol Hill Tuesday to try to build support. A reporter asked him, as he entered a closed-door meeting with Republicans, if the bill would pass. Trump gave a thumbs-up sign and said, ‘‘I think so.’’

Failure to pass the bill would be a major setback to Trump. Success could give Republicans momentum to tackle other big issues. Even if it passes the House, though, the bill faces an uncertain fate in the Senate.

Massachusetts could also take a big hit under Trump’s budget plans. Trump released a budget blueprint last week.

Democratic US Senator Ed Markey estimated the state, under the Trump proposal, would lose nearly $1 billion in federal funding for research, clean energy, education, and social services programs.