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Healthcare Job Growth Threatened by ACA Repeal

By John Commins  
   January 11, 2017

The Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University and The Commonwealth Fund offer some troubling projections if Congress repeals just two key provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act without first providing at least some inkling of what will replace it could threaten one of the most dynamic job creation machines in the U.S. economy, a report suggests.

The U.S. economy created more than 2.1 million jobs in 2016, of which 421,700 were within the healthcare sector, according to preliminary figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That means that the healthcare sector accounted for 20% of all new jobs in 2016. That includes about 260,000 new jobs in ambulatory services, and 139,000 new jobs in hospitals; a little more than 35,000 new jobs per month, a pace down slightly from the 471,600 healthcare jobs created in 2015, BLS data show.

Since 2010, the year that the "job-killing" Affordable Care Act was signed into law, BLS data show that the economy created 15.2 million jobs, of which 2 million were in healthcare, representing nearly 13% of all jobs created in a six-year span of sluggish job growth in the slow emergence from the Great Recession.

Generally speaking, healthcare jobs are good jobs, particularly in economically depressed areas where decent jobs are scarce and it's not uncommon for the local hospital to be one of the largest employers in the region.

Healthcare jobs provide a clean and safe working environment and they pay better than other sectors, particularly for skilled clinicians and administrators.

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders.

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