Monday, March 06, 2017

REPUBLICAN AGENDA - Affordable Care Act Repeal

aka 'Your Health is Too Expensive to Fund Act'

"Hospitals worry an ACA repeal could harm their financial health" PBS NewsHour 2/27/2017


SUMMARY:  Efforts by the Trump administration and congressional Republicans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act are underway, unnerving to some hospital executives who see uncertainty for their bottom line.  If large numbers of people lose their insurance under a replacement, hospital finances could be at risk.  Special correspondent Sarah Varney reports.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Now what hospitals fear about the possible costs of repealing and replacing the health care law.

Efforts by President Trump and congressional Republicans to unravel the Affordable Care Act are unnerving many hospital executives.  They say they're worried about big changes to their bottom line, particularly after they overhauled how care is delivered in response to the health law's rewards and penalties.

While Republicans try to figure out their game plan, special correspondent Sarah Varney reports on how hospitals are bracing for the unknown.

This story was produced in collaboration with our partner Kaiser Health News.

SARAH VARNEY, special correspondent:  Driving to work amid the barren winter fields in Northern Illinois, Cathie Chapman is worried about the future.  She lost her job after a nearby rural hospital closed.

CATHIE CHAPMAN, Perry Memorial Hospital:  I was really lucky.  I found another great hospital to work in with a wonderful group of people who deliver high-quality care.  But not everyone was as lucky.

SARAH VARNEY:  And as Republicans work to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, she wonders if it might happen again.  Now she runs the pharmacy at Perry Memorial in Princeton, Illinois.  And she's watching the Republicans' repeal efforts warily.

CATHIE CHAPMAN:  I think everybody who works in health care now feels a little uneasy.  Even if you're a large, profitable hospital, we don't know what's coming around the corner, and how it will affect us.

SARAH VARNEY:  Rural hospitals have long struggled to stay open: They have far fewer patients and thin margins.  Dozens have closed across the country in recent years, mostly in states that didn't expand Medicaid.

But, in Illinois, which did extend Medicaid to nearly all poor adults, patients at Perry Memorial have gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act and many hospitals have found firmer footing.

But Annette Schnabel, the hospital's CEO, says if large numbers of people lose their insurance under the Republicans' replacement, the hospital's finances and its patients would be at risk, especially after the hospital has invested so much money and time in complying with the health law.

ANNETTE SCHNABEL, CEO, Perry Memorial Hospital:  We have spent the last six years gearing up towards everything that we were responsible for doing in the ACA.  And the idea of we might have to totally go a different direction or how will we do that, it's going to take a lot of work.  There's a lot of effort that is going into this.

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