House Republicans claimed victory after pushing through their legislative centerpiece that would scuttle much of Obamacare. The health-care bill’s pathway through the U.S. Senate is less clear.
Harborview Medical Center’s executive director said Friday the hospital could lose more than $627 million a year starting in 2026 when the full impact of the health-care bill passed Thursday by the House of Representatives would be felt.
Hospital officials said the potential loss would come through a combined decrease in federal revenue and increase in costs of charity and uncompensated care.
Paul Hayes joined Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell at the medical center to speak about the legislation heralded by President Donald Trump as a “big win” in a tweet.
“In addition to adverse financial impact, you can only imagine the dramatic impact it will have in the health of those we serve,” Hayes said.
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The grim scenario painted by Hayes would occur if the GOP House bill became law in its current form, he said.
Although she’s in the Senate’s minority party, Murray predicted that would not happen. “This awful, disastrous Trumpcare bill is a complete nonstarter” in the Senate, Murray said.
The bulk of the Harborview cuts wouldn’t start until 2020, when the GOP bill would reduce the federal reimbursement rate to states for Medicaid spending from 90 to 50 percent.
That would cost Harborview, which serves many low-income people, about $275 million a year, said Ian Goodhew, chief lobbyist for UW Medicine. Harborview, which is owned by King County and is operated by UW Medicine, treats more Medicaid patients than any hospital in the state, Goodhew said. About one-third of Harborview’s $1 billion budget is funded by Medicaid.
On top of that, Harborview faces another $21 million in annual cuts in Medicare reimbursement. That reduction was prescribed by Obamacare under the rationale that with more low-income people covered by health insurance, hospitals would spend less on uncompensated or charity care.
Then, Harborview projects a $330 million annual loss due to an increase in costs associated with charity and uncompensated care and a reduction in additional payments the federal government makes to hospitals, like Harborview, that disproportionately serve the poor, according to Goodhew.
All of those cuts assume the state of Washington won’t step in and increase its own Medicaid spending.
They also mean that advocates and lobbyists for health-care providers and consumers will press the Senate to change the GOP House bill.
“Obviously, the significant impact of this bill means we’ll be looking to the Senate to understand the drastic cuts this would cause,” Goodhew said.
Republicans claimed victory Thursday after pushing through their legislative centerpiece that would scuttle much of President Barack Obama’s health-care law. The bill’s path through the Senate is less clear, and the measure will likely change significantly, if it is passed at all.
Cantwell estimated the repeal of Obamacare would take $1.4 billion out of Washington state’s economy each year. She also said 14 million Medicaid recipients nationwide and 600,000 Washingtonians would lose coverage under the bill.
“How is that a good strategy?” she said.
Thursday’s 217-213 House passage — with 20 GOP defections — was preceded by several near-death experiences for the legislation, in a chamber Republicans control 238-193. If two additional Republicans had voted “no” Thursday, the measure would have lost.
U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, voted against the health-care bill, saying it “falls short” on provisions for poor children and people with pre-existing medical conditions — and that it was rushed through without proper vetting of costs.
In a phone interview Thursday, Reichert said he waited to announce his opposition because he was doing “due diligence” and collecting facts.
If it becomes law in its present form, the measure would change the rules and subsidies for people who buy their own insurance coverage and make major cuts to the Medicaid program, which pays for care for the poor and disabled.
The winners include high-income earners, upper-middle-class Americans without pre-existing health conditions, and people wanting less comprehensive medical coverage.