Wednesday, July 04, 2012
Hospitals Oppose GOP Medicaid Plans
Sadly, 10 states led by Republicans have already said they would not institute Medicaid reform, and it is likely that another 19 Republican-led states will follow suit. That means over half of the states will deny medical insurance coverage to millions of poor and working class people (about 17 million people). This should not surprise anyone, since the Republican Party has made it clear they do not believe health care is a right of all -- just a privilege for those who can afford it. The Republicans think of health care as a commodity, which a person can either purchase or not.
Unfortunately, that is some seriously flawed thinking. While many "commodities" are indeed the choice of the consumer, health care is different. Health care is not a choice, but is something that will be needed by everyone at some point in their life. Hospitals know this, because they are the ones that have to deliver those health care services. And that is why they are upset with the Republican plan to keep millions of Americans from getting insurance coverage from Medicaid. The hospitals know they will have to treat these people by law (probably through emergency rooms), and they still won't be paid for those services.
In 2010, hospitals were left with $39.3 billion dollars in unpaid medical bills, mostly from being required to treat people who do not have insurance and cannot afford the expensive medical costs. The hospitals were hoping to recover much of that in the future, since an additional 17 million people who make less that 133% of the poverty level would have been covered by Medicaid.
The Republicans would like for people to think they are saving money by not instituting the Medicaid reforms. But that is just another Republican lie. The hospitals don't just write off that $39.3 billion in unpaid bills. They couldn't stay in business if they did. They just pass those costs on to the rest of us, through higher medical bills (meaning higher insurance premiums and co-pays) and, in the case of public hospitals, higher local taxes. The Republicans aren't saving anyone any money -- they are just shifting the costs to local taxpayers and other medical consumers (who must bear the burden of the higher medical costs). This is why the hospitals must oppose the Republican plans to deny Medicaid reform, because it is a plan that is guaranteed to make the hospitals continue to raise their prices to stay in business.
Don't believe the Republican lies about how they can't afford Medicaid reform. The federal government will pay all of the costs for three years, and then will pay 90% after that. And don't believe their lies about how they are saving money for the American people. They are just shifting the costs, not saving money.
The only saving grace in the mean-spirited Republican plan to deny Medicaid reform is that it is probably pushing this country much faster toward finally adopting a single-payer medicam insurance program -- and that is a good thing.