Massachusetts employers believe overwhelmingly that federal health-care reform must change, but their opinions about how to do so vary widely.
A new AIM survey finds that 43 percent of Bay State employers think that Congress and President Donald Trump should make changes to the existing Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Forty percent favor repealing the law and replacing it with an alternative program.
Eleven percent want to leave the current system in place while seven percent would repeal the reform law without an alternative.
The president and the Republican-controlled Congress have made “repeal and replace” a centerpiece of their governing priorities for the first 100 days. Republicans have yet to agree upon an alternative, but appear to favor eliminating the tax penalties imposed on people who go without insurance and on larger employers who do not offer coverage to employees.
The AIM survey was taken in January and is based upon responses from 162 employers from all sectors of the Massachusetts economy.
“The paperwork for Obamacare is ridiculous and terrifying for the regular person,” wrote one employer.
“We used to get one bill and now you get a bill from each doctor and have to wait for explanation of benefits and pre-register for everything. They have made health care so many layers it's no wonder the prices are through the roof.”
Another employer echoed that frustration.
“Trying to make changes to a 2,700-page bill with over 40,000 pages of accompanying regulations is bizarre. Start over,” the employer wrote.
Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM, said employers supported the 2006 Massachusetts health-care reform as a first step to controlling the cost of providing health insurance to workers. Federal reform caused upheaval for many small employers in Massachusetts, but Lord also warns that an ill-considered repeal might put at risk billions of dollars in federal Medicaid funding that made the Bay State reform so successful.
“The expansion of Medicaid is exerting significant financial pressure on the state budget. Our hope is that policymakers in Washington can agree on some common-sense tweaks to Obamacare that would work to everyone’s benefit.”
Republican leaders formulating a replacement health reform have talked about eliminating tens of billions of dollars provided each year to states that have expanded eligibility for Medicaid. They have also discussed repealing subsidies for private health insurance coverage obtained through the public marketplaces known as exchanges.
The 2010 federal reform imposed taxes and fees on certain high-income people and on health insurers and manufacturers of brand-name prescription drugs and medical devices, among others. Republicans have not said for sure which taxes they will scrap and which they may keep.
The policy debate in playing out amid growing signs of accelerating health-insurance premium costs.
“My insurance premiums increased 24 percent this year. That is a little excessive,” one employer wrote.