The health care industry added 2.2 million jobs in 2016—growing more than any other sector of the economy—but a new study warns that repealing the ACA could have severe consequences for the industry, Shelby Livingston reports for Modern Healthcare.
Year over year, the health care sector added 406,600 jobs in 2016, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released last week, which includes preliminary data for November and December. Overall, the health care industry employed 15.8 million people at the end of the year. The pace of health care job growth remained strong in 2016, averaging about 35,000 jobs per month, just slightly behind its pace in 2015 of 39,000 per month.
By sector, year-over-year, as of December:
- The hospital sector in 2016 added a seasonally adjusted 139,500 employees;
- The ambulatory health care services sector added a seasonally adjusted 260,100 employees; and
- Nursing and residential care facilities added a seasonally adjusted 22,100 employees.
Long-term health care employment trends
Report: Repealing ACA could lead to job losses in health care sector
However, according to a new report, if Republicans in Congress repeal certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without passing a replacement plan, the health care sector could lose a significant number of jobs in the coming years.
The report, released by the Commonwealth Fund and the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, found that repealing major provisions of the ACA, such as health insurance premium subsidies and Medicaid expansion, could cause 2.6 million people to lose their jobs in 2019, with job losses totaling nearly 3 million by 2021—and while the report found that job losses would affect many sectors of the economy, it predicts that about one-third would occur in health care.
The report states that if the uninsured rate increases, uncompensated care costs are likely to rise, which could put pressure on health care providers to cut costs by shedding workers.
Milken Institute's Leighton Ku, the lead author of the study, said, "Repealing key parts of the ACA could trigger massive job losses and a slump in consumer and business spending that would affect all sectors of state economies." He added that "cuts in federal funding would not only harm the health care industry and its employees but could lead to serious economic distress for states, including a $1.5 trillion reduction in gross state product from 2019 to 2023" (Livingston, Modern Healthcare, 1/6; BLS data , accessed 1/10; BLS data ; accessed 1/10; BLS data , accessed 1/10).
Why you're in danger of building the wrong workforce
No matter what happens with the ACA, to succeed in the future, health care organizations will need to provide care in the lowest-cost, most appropriate setting—and to accomplish this, they’ll need a different complement of staff than in the past.
But if today's leaders don't revise their workforce planning strategy, they're in danger of building the wrong workforce, a mistake that will be costly in the long run and could take 10 to 12 years to correct.
Find out what you need to do to revise your approach—starting from the "outside-in."