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BOSTON — Potential changes to the Affordable Care Act by the Trump administration could cause medical costs to be shifted from group health coverage to workers compensation insurers as workers seek to replace lost health insurance, a former congressman says.
Former U.S. Rep. Harry Waxman, a Democrat from California, said that the Trump administration’s plans to repeal and replace the ACA could lead to uninsured individuals seeking healthcare under various social programs including workers comp.
Workers affected by a repeal of the ACA “will have to buy a very high-deductible insurance and may not be able to afford it because we are going to take away the tax breaks, the subsidies that we have used to help people who couldn’t afford their policy,” Mr. Waxman said.
Mr. Waxman spoke during a presentation Thursday at the Workers Compensation Research Institute's Annual Issues & Research Conference in Boston.
He added that losing coverage under a repeal of the ACA could prompt people to seek care under workers comp claims. “If somebody can get into the workers comp system…they are going to and do that.”
Former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma, said that while the ACA aimed to make health insurance accessible, many people struggled with high deductibles.
“The deductibles shot up and the premiums shot up under the Affordable Care Act,” Mr. Coburn said during the WCRI presentation. “Lots of people didn’t get insurance because they couldn’t afford it.”
Mr. Coburn said medical advancements in the next 20 years could benefit injured workers.
“It’s going to be nothing but personalized precision medicine, and at first it’s going to cost a lot. But the outcome, especially in terms of workers comp, is going to be phenomenal in terms of curing chronic problems, in terms of developing treatments that solve limitations that are created through work injury.”
Some workers compensation professionals worry the health care reform law will delay return to work by making it difficult for injured workers to obtain timely medical care.