Why Hospitals Favor ObamaCare
From Sarah Kliff at the WaPo:
Under the health reform law, hospitals will see reductions in some of their Medicare reimbursement rates. They will be forced to deliver higher quality or see financial consequences.
All of that was worth it, in hospitals’ eyes, because of the insurance expansion. That would finally put someone on the hook for the medical bills that have, for decades, gone unpaid.
If states opt-out of the Medicaid expansion, that essentially means there’s no one on the hook for some of the poorest patients. And that explains why Bruce Siegel, president of the National Association of Public Hospitals, calls states opting out a “potentially disastrous outcome” and is urging Congress to come up with a fix. For them, the status quo is the worst possible outcome: One where they have accepted cuts to Medicare, and still get stuck with billions in unpaid bills.
So, states opting out of the Medicaid expansion will not only deny better health care to the poor, but put at risk hospitals which serve all the citizens. At some point the idiom about noses and faces describes the behavior of conservatives.
From Suzy Khimm at the WaPo on a recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation:
Across the country, 16 percent of state general fund dollars go toward Medicaid, less than half of what states spend on K-12 education…
“Despite beliefs that Medicaid is claiming a larger share of state budgets, the share of state general fund dollars for Medicaid has remained fairly stable increasing from 14.4% in 1995 to 15.8% in 2010 at the same time general fund spending for education increased from 33.4% to 35.3%,” Kaiser says.
The most recent uptick is largely due to the recession and the accompanying drop in state revenues, as well as the expiration of federal stimulus money for Medicaid.
What would happen to state budgets if all states went ahead with the Medicaid expansion? The Congressional Budget Office says that it would increase state spending on the program by $73 billion by 2022—the equivalent of a “2.8 percent increase in what states would have spent on Medicaid from 2014 to 2022 in the absence of health reform,” the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained.
That seems like a small price to pay for subsidizing Medicare and making sure hospitals are there for the rest of us.