Washington Hospitals Weigh In On Supreme Court Concerns

Jun 22, 2012

The Washington state Hospital association is weighing in on their concerns about the possible aftermath of a US Supreme Court ruling that could overturn all or part of the Affordable care act.  Steve Jackson has more.

It’s estimated there are just over a million Washington state residents without health insurance.
The state Hospital Association says several facets of the Affordable care act would help to provide coverage to those people. Specifically expansion of Medicaid to many low income folks, creation of health insurance exchanges to bring together a number of Health Insurance options, and subsidies for low and middle income people to be able to afford the insurance. The cut off number for a family of two to be able to get subsidies is an income of $60,000 or less per year.

Association Spokeswoman Cassie Sauer says people who are uninsured face many health threats from not going to a doctor to treat minor ailments that can become worse, and actually cost the rest of the insured population more money when they do visit a doctor:

"The way who do have insurance pay a premium, the insurance commissioner estimates it everyone in the state pays an additional $1,000 in their premiums a year for the people that don’t have insurance”

In crafting the Obama health plan, hospitals agreed to take $155 billion in cuts to federal money that goes to hospitals that care for a large number of uninsured patients or those on Medicaid. The idea being there would far less folks without insurance.

But Sauer says because the US Supreme court may leave portions of the Affordable Care Act intact, and reject others, hospitals face a special dilemma.

“A terrible decision out of the court could be the Medicaid expansion cant go forward, but the cuts stay in pace, so that means the cuts are there, it’s $2.7 billion in Washington state, with no coverage expansion to offset the cuts, so hospital s are still left to care for people who can’t get care anyplace else, but they won’t have the payment programs in place to help support that”

The US Supreme Court is expected to rule any day on the fate of President Obama’s Health care Law.

Copyright 2012 Spokane Public Radio