Hos­pi­tals worry about car­ing for newly unin­sured in plan

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Kelli Kennedy

When Colorado ex­panded Med­i­caid cov­er­age un­der for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s health care law, the largest provider in the Den­ver re­gion hired more than 250 em­ploy­ees and built a $27 mil­lion pri­mary care clinic and two new school-based clin­ics.

Emer­gency rooms vis­its stayed flat as Den­ver Health Med­i­cal Cen­ter di­rected many of the nearly 80,000 newly in­sured pa­tients into one of its 10 com­mu­nity health cen­ters, where newly hired so­cial work­ers and men­tal health ther­a­pists pro­vided ser­vices for some of the county’s poor­est res­i­dents. De­mand for ser­vices at the new pri­mary care clinic was al­most im­me­di­ate.

The hos­pi­tal sys­tem, like others around the coun­try, now is fac­ing enor­mous un­cer­tainty un­der the health care overhaul pro­posed by con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans.

The GOP plan would scale back the Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion and take away di­rect fed­eral sub­si­dies to help con­sumers pay their health in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums, re­plac­ing them with age-ad­justed tax cred­its.

Den­ver Health could see rev­enue losses be­tween $50 mil­lion and $85 mil­lion by 2020, which is be­tween 5 per­cent and 9 per­cent of their an­nual rev­enue, ac­cord­ing to the hos­pi­tal’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer. Den­ver Health and many other hos­pi­tal sys­tems and med­i­cal providers across the coun­try still would be re­quired to care for many of the same pa­tients, even if they lost their health cov­er­age. That would leave hos­pi­tals, state and lo­cal govern­ments, or pri­vately in­sured pa­tients to foot the bill.

“If it’s full re­moval of Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion, we would have to make cuts on our sys­tem, and I re­ally think that those cuts would roll back our progress and could para­dox­i­cally in­crease the cost of care by driv­ing care back to where it shouldn’t be — in the emer­gency rooms,” said Dr. Bill Bur­man, in­terim chief ex­ec­u­tive for Den­ver Health.

The Repub­li­can plan would limit the amount of fed­eral money avail­able to states that opted to ex­pand Med­i­caid, which pro­vides health cov­er­age to the poor and lower-in­come peo­ple. It also would overhaul the frame­work of Med­i­caid gen­er­ally so that in the fu­ture states would re­ceive a lim­ited amount per per­son based on en­roll­ment and costs.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.