At a briefing today at the National Press Club, hospital leaders urged Congress to protect health coverage for the most vulnerable as it considers legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
“Our primary concerns are that the bill does not maintain coverage for the more than 22 million people who are currently receiving benefits under the ACA and that it uses Medicaid restructuring as a vehicle for making significant reductions in that program,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. At the same time, he noted, the legislation fails to restore cuts to hospital payments that “will be needed to take care of an increased number of uninsured folks.” He urged Congress to “press the reset button and reboot” the American Health Care Act.
Winona (MN) Health President and CEO Rachelle Schultz, who chairs the AHA’s Section for Rural Hospitals, said adding what could be tens of millions more people to the uninsured rolls would bring new budget pressures for hospitals and could frustrate their efforts to promote community health. “I am fearful that a lot of our work [in population health management] would go by the wayside,” she said.
The bill would, among other changes, eliminate the penalty for noncompliance with the ACA’s individual and employer mandates and replace the law's means-tested advance premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions with tax credits that vary by age for individuals under a certain level of income; end the enhanced Medicaid federal funding for future expansion populations, beginning in 2020, and transition the Medicaid program to a per capita cap funding model; and repeal most of the law’s taxes.
The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation on March 13 estimated that next year 14 million more people would be uninsured under the legislation than under current law. Overall, the report estimates that nearly 24 million people would lose coverage over 10 years. CBO and JCT estimate that the legislation would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion over the 2017-2026 period. The largest savings would come from reductions in outlays for Medicaid and from the elimination of the ACA’s subsidies for non-group health insurance.
Meanwhile, a new AHA television ad urges Congress to protect health coverage for the most vulnerable as it considers legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The 30-second ad began airing this weekend on national cable and in the Washington, D.C., market.