Hospitals gear up for major offensive against ObamaCare repeal

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A powerful coalition of hospitals is previewing a fierce attack against GOP leaders if lawmakers follow through on their promise to repeal ObamaCare next year.

The American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals on Tuesday fired off a damning new report warning that its industry stood to take a massive financial hit under the repeal of ObamaCare.

The 41-page report, which was conducted by the firm Dobson DaVanzo & Associates, showed the hospital industry would lose $165.8 billion through cuts to Medicaid alone.

It’s the most high-profile study yet by a healthcare industry that’s fearful of an abrupt ObamaCare repeal after the surprise victory of President-elect Donald Trump last month.
Hospitals would lose another $289.5 billion if Republicans scrap the ObamaCare payments to hospitals with higher Medicare patients. The payments are part of what’s called the Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program, which was drastically reshaped under ObamaCare.

Tom Nickels, executive vice president for the American Hospital Association, said these types of financial losses “cannot be sustained” in any part of the country.


He added that a repeal bill without an immediate replacement would “decimate hospitals’ ability to provide services, weaken local economies and result in massive job losses.”  

The study, which includes data from the federal government as well as private studies, is based on the Republicans’ bill aimed at dismantling the healthcare law 2015, which was vetoed by President Obama.

“We believe that this bill will serve as a template, or at least a starting point, for congressional action in 2017,” Federation of American Hospitals President Chip Kahn told reporters.

The hospital leaders did not tell Republicans to necessarily protect ObamaCare — just not to repeal it without replacing it with additional funding streams for them.
Hospitals have seen major gains under ObamaCare, which expanded coverage to 22 million people, by decreasing the amount of “uncompensated care.” These effects were even greater in the states that also opted to expand Medicaid coverage to more lower-income people.
But Kahn said he and other healthcare leaders would be open to working with Republicans “in making a soft landing” if the law is going to unraveled and eventually replaced. 

With the holiday recess ahead, Kahn said hospital leaders would make their warnings clear to lawmakers before the start of the 115th Congress begins.

Their press conference on Tuesday included the president of a small hospital in North Carolina, who said she said the idea of another grueling healthcare debate was “gut-wrenching” to watch. 

“When I first heard ‘repeal and replace,’ my gut just kind of knotted up,” Joann Anderson, whose hospital is called Southeastern Health in Lumberton, North Carolina, said on the call. 

Speaking shortly after Anderson, Kahn said: “Members of Congress are going to hear that from every hospital in their district.”

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