International Monetary Fund urges US to protect gains won under Obamacare

The economic model of the United States does not work as well as it should to generate a shared distribution of prosperity. It is the final conclusion that the International Monetary Fund makes in its annual review to the greatest power in the world. It is set, among other aspects, in the health system and take advantage to send an urgent message to Washington. Any policy change , he says, must be done by “protecting” everything that was achieved after the crisis.

US growth is “too low” and “too unequal,” insists the IMF. It offers ten recipes to achieve a more inclusive economy. He cites the investment in infrastructures, commercial opening or the contribution of immigration. And it gets into the debate on health reform just as the Senate tries to take forward legislation to repeal the system implemented by Barack Obama.

The one known as Obamacare managed to give health coverage to 20 million Americans. But its elimination, as the Republicans defend with the support of President Donald Trump, will trigger the number of people who will be left without health insurance. Only in the first year would be 17 million citizens and reach 32 million in the course of ten years, which must be added those who have no coverage.

The changes, according to the document adopted by the governing council of the IMF, must be done “with care to avoid affecting” the operation of the health system or exclude individuals and families with “limited” income. They refer specifically to people who are at risk of being excluded from the Medicaid program because with the new formulation they are no longer eligible.

The IMF insists that strengthening health coverage has a clear economic benefit because it contributes to raising productivity, improves well-being and encourages labor participation. “This, in turn, will reinforce growth and job creation, reduce the economic insecurity associated with the lack of health insurance and have a positive effect on the fiscal position,” he anticipates.

The organism admits that it must be found with a formula that allows to contain the costs to improve the sustainability of programs like Medicaid or Medicare, for retirees. The IMF points out the need at this point to examine mechanisms to contain the rise in prices in health services, applying new technologies that allow to increase efficiencies or improve transparency.

But citing the calculations of the Congressional Budget Office, he points out that the new legislation projects a “too big” loss of people covered by insurance. “Health care policies must protect the gains in coverage that have been achieved since the financial crisis,” reiterates the IMF, “especially for those at the lower end of the income distribution.”

The bitter debate in Washington on health reform is also putting in evidence, the difficulty that President Donald Trump will have to carry out his electoral promises. The uncertainty about the future of the policies included in its agenda is, in fact, the reason the IMF argues to lower the growth projection, which remains at 2.1% for 2017.

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