It has been hailed for increasing coverage, streamlining the delivery of care, and lowering costs. But the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, the federal health insurance law that has generated controversy since its 2010 passage, has also led to the layoffs of dozens of architects at two firms, HDR and Jain Malkin, according to staff.
This past summer and fall, HDR, an Omaha-based global architecture and engineering practice with a large healthcare portfolio, let go 100 people as its hospital commissions slowed, according to company sources. And on November 30, Jain Malkin, which specializes in hospital design and has also been battered by the economy, will lay off all 14 of its employees as its San Diego office closes for good. “Our company has really felt it tightly in the last six months,” says Joost Bende, a Malkin principal, who added that uncertainty about whether the law would be repealed froze many hospitals’ expansion plans for years. Jain Malkin, who founded the firm in 1972, agrees that there was a slowdown in her business stemming from uncertainty in the industry over the fate of the health care law, but she says she planned to close the firm anyway. She has decided to retire from the practice at 68, though she will continue to consult and work on other projects.