GOP Obamacare replacement bill could hurt Illinois hospitals: IHA – Health Care News

on May4

4 May 2017 | 7:00 pm

Congress today overcame a huge hurdle, passing a controversial bill to scrap Obamacare after a March attempt failed.

To secure crucial votes in the latest effort, GOP leaders promised an extra $8 billion to help people with pre-existing conditions cover their health insurance, a big concern for some lawmakers and one that has riled up voters. Still, some say the amount won’t be enough to help people with chronic conditions afford what could become skyrocketing premiums under the latest American Health Care Act legislation.

To gauge the impact the latest GOP plan could have on Illinois, Crain’s talked with A.J. Wilhelmi, CEO of the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, shortly after the plan passed the House. The IHA is an influential Naperville-based lobbying group for hospitals throughout the state.

What follows is an edited transcript of the conversation.

What are you hearing from your members? How are people reacting?

The Illinois Health and Hospital Association and member hospitals are disappointed. We’re concerned that hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans could lose their health insurance coverage, and we’re also concerned that Illinois could lose at least $40 billion in federal Medicaid funding over 10 years. We have significant concerns, but we also look forward to continuing our work with the Illinois congressional delegation on ways to support hospitals and our patient communities.

Which is a more pressing concern: The potential reduction of Medicaid funding or the potential inability of millions of people with pre-existing conditions to finance their coverage?

Both of those issues are concerning to the IHA and member hospitals. The loss of coverage (for people with pre-existing conditions) would represent a significant step backwards and would result in more people delaying care or choosing not to seek immediate treatment. More people would also turn to emergency rooms for care.

Of course we’re also concerned about the impact to the Illinois Medicaid program, to our hospitals and our health care delivery system, and also to the state budget and the state economy.

Under the AHCA, the state could lose $40 billion in federal Medicaid funding over 10 years. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has said the AHCA could cost the county $300 million a year. What would that look like for Illinois residents?

This has the potential to put significant pressure on hospitals throughout the state of Illinois. We’ve shared statistics that 40 percent of our hospitals are operating in the red or on razor-thin margins. Additional pressures will put hospitals in a very difficult situation and force the elimination of services and jobs, as well as put important infrastructure programs on hold. Hospitals have reason to be concerned if the American Health Care Act becomes law.

What are your next steps?

We have meetings lined up next week with Senator Durbin and Senator Duckworth about the possible options moving forward.

We want to continue our open and robust dialogue regarding the support of Illinois hospitals which, in fulfilling their mission of providing services to residents, also serve as economic anchors throughout the state. We know that significant changes will need to be made (to the bill) in order for the hospital community to consider changing our current position, which is to oppose the American Health Care Act.



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