Health care bill would hurt millions, especially the poor and vulnerable

May 25, 2017 Rod Hochman

Seven years ago, we thought we finally made health care a right in this country, not a privilege. Undoing the progress we’ve made, on the behalf of those who are poor and vulnerable, is unacceptable.

According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the proposed American Health Care Act would largely dismantle Medicaid as we know it. The CBO estimates the bill would cut Medicaid funding by $834 billion over 10 years. This would be one of the greatest transfers of money from health care for Americans to tax cuts.

Millions of people would lose coverage under the proposed bill. While not perfect, Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act has insured 5 million people across the seven states that Providence St. Joseph Health serves, and a total of 20 million people across the country.

As it stands today, the AHCA would have a devastating impact. Many people would lose access to primary and preventive care – not to mention mental health services, which are already limited and urgently needed in every community across the country.

I wish we weren’t talking about going backward at a time when there are emerging issues that need our immediate attention, such as the growing mental health crisis and the alarming rates of opioid and other drug addictions in our country.

As written, the AHCA represents the largest restructure of Medicaid since its inception in 1965. It would place limits either on financing or enrollment through proposed block grants or per capita cap systems. For Providence St. Joseph Health, our 50 hospitals would see about $9.5 billion in reduced Medicaid reimbursement over 10 years.

More and more private practices are no longer accepting Medicaid because of the low reimbursement. That means, in many of our communities, the Providence St. Joseph Health family of organizations has become the sole – or one of the few – providers still welcoming these patients, and we remain committed to serving them no matter what happens in Washington, D.C.

In fact, we are more resolute than ever and are determined to be a strong voice for those who are poor and vulnerable. We are actively talking with our senators about this bill and have a very strong advocacy program at work in Washington D.C. We are partnering with national groups to collectively voice our concerns, and are offering the expertise of our clinicians to shape a bill that would improve health reform in a meaningful and sustainable way.

As Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association has said, we need to be active at the “grass-top” and the grassroots levels. The “grass top” refers to our advocacy with lawmakers. The grassroots includes everyone in our communities. You can make a difference by speaking up about how important access to health care is to you, your loved ones and your community.

Many people often ask if they can share my posts, and the answer is yes. Please help us spread the word. Let’s keep the dialogue going. Together, we can and will make a difference.

Meeting with our U.S. senators

King 5.jpg

Recently, we met with Senator Patty Murray from Washington state, our Executive VP and Chief Population Health Officer Dr. Rhonda Medows and Natalie Brand from Western Washington's King 5 TV to discuss the health care bill. 

Watch the video interview: Sen. Murray on GOP healthcare bill - KING5 TV

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