Medicaid Rollback in ACA Replacement Bill Troubles University Hospitals

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Hospitals are worried about an increase in uninsured patients as a result of the GOP-proposed bill to replace the Affordable Care Act.  More than 700,000 Ohioans gained health care coverage as a result of Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.  The new American Health Care Act, would phase out that expansion starting in 2020. Heidi Gartland, Vice President of Community and Government Relations at University Hospitals, says that roughly 20% of UH patients are covered by Medicaid.

Gartland says that amidst an opioid epidemic, the Medicaid rollback could have a serious impact on people dealing with addiction.

“Clearly one of the biggest winners in Medicaid expansion has been access for patients that have desperately needed mental health and substance abuse treatments.  And so I do see that that will again be a major population that will be really in the in the wings, so to speak, of our health care institution,” says Gartland.  “It means that once you get into active treatment you can get back into working and get back into sort of the life that you had before your addiction.  And I think that that is probably one of the biggest travesties of losing this benefit.”

Gartland says UH will likely see an increase in the amount of money it spends covering the cost of care for poor patients if the AHCA passes.

“University Hospitals will continue to provide health care to the vulnerable citizens but what will happen is our charity care and our uncompensated care and bad debts and things like that will certainly increase rapidly,” says Gartland.

The head of the Ohio Hospital Association estimates one in four hospitals in the state could be at risk of closing down as a result of the proposed health care bill.

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