Safety nets thrilled, but ...
Private, not-for-profit, urban safety net hospitals are thrilled with the passage of healthcare reform that will enable 32 million Americans to join the ranks of the insured— thrilled because so many of those 32 million reside in the communities we serve.
Our pleasure, though, is tempered by our concern about how we will be paid for caring for these new patients. Roughly 20 million of the newly insured will be enrolled in Medicaid, which reimburses hospitals for less than the cost of the services they deliver in most states. More Medicaid patients—roughly 40% more—will mean even greater Medicaid losses for urban, safety net hospitals. Meanwhile, reform will reduce funding for some of the programs that help compensate high-volume Medicaid hospitals for their significant Medicaid shortfalls.
The new healthcare reform law is a great start, but it is only a start. Private, not-forprofit, urban safety net hospitals are about to take on a bigger role than ever in caring for low-income residents of urban America, and policymakers in Washington will need to do more to ensure that we have the resources we need to meet this enormous challenge.
Ellen Kugler Executive director National Association of Urban Hospitals