“This Facility is CLOSED,” reads a sign posted on the door of a Nicholas County, Kentucky hospital. Reading further, the sign also directs those needing “immediate care,” to “call 911.” This is then followed by a listing of “Closest Emergency Rooms.”
The blame, some say, for such notices winding up on now shuttered hospital entryways in the Blue Grass State can be laid right at the doorstep of the Affordable Care Act.
According to a recent report in USA Today (online 5/8, by Laura Ungar) the reasons are traceable to the scenario as recently outlined by the Kentucky Hospital Association (KHA) during a recent press conference. Those concerns have been released in its report entitled “Code Blue,” which says, according to USA Today, that “payment cuts to hospitals are expected to reach nearly $7 billion through 2024,” and also that “Kentucky hospitals will lose more money under the Affordable Care Act than they gain in revenue from expanded coverage.” USA Today also says, a net loss of $ 1billion will be realized by the year 2020.
Ungar adds, “Meanwhile many patients with job-based private insurance, and plans purchased on the state exchange, face high deductibles and co-pays. When they can’t pay their bills, a hospital’s bad debt grows. This pushes up uncompensated care, even as charity care to the uninsured drops.”
During the recent press conference KHA President Mike Rust alluded to Medicaid expansion as having provided many Kentucky residents with healthcare insurance which also brought fresh funds to hospitals, but Rust is also said, “the rest of the story is the cuts.”
According to TheHill.com report Tuesday, U.S. Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is suggesting that Kentucky’s health insurance exchange could withstand a scrapping of Obamacare, the law that created the marketplace to begin with.
McConnell’s challenger in the current U.S. Senate election, Alison Lundergan Grimes, has accepted Kynect, Kentucky’s healthcare marketplace, but refuses to elaborate whether she would have voted for Obamacare in 2010.
The Hill report also says Grimes’ said in a recent statement: “Kentuckians shouldn’t have been forced to lose the plans they had and liked, shouldn’t have seen their premiums skyrocket, shouldn’t have had their Medicare cut, and shouldn’t have had their taxes raised because of President Obama and his friends in Washington forced it down their throats.”
In a non-descript healthcare clinic in Louisville Kentucky, provider adjustments caused by Obamacare are being felt – so much so overworked staff strive just to keep up with increased patient demand. As of late, patients’ ailments seem to fit the usual categorical profiles: diabetes, high blood-pressure, chronic pain, and quite significantly – no health insurance.
Even those who work in the healthcare industry requiring care, feel the effects. One dental hygienist in Louisville is overdue for at least two specialized medical procedures. While she has a new plan, it comes with a much higher premium. Only a handful of doctors and hospitals accept it. She’s also discovered her local Walgreens doesn’t accept her new Humana coverage. While she quit smoking and went on a candy binge, receiving a dark chocolate bar from Humana, with a “Heart Healthy” label on the outside was little comfort. The candy bar was offered as a consolation – for her policy’s cancellation. Others have obtained subsidized insurance, though have not paid the first month’s premium. As a result they may return to being uninsured.
The Affordable Care Act still faces stark challenges in states like Kentucky. The obstacles range from vigorous political foes – who plan on keeping up their attacks until Election Day, to watchful consumers – who feel both the costs of new ACA plans are too high, and the choice of hospitals and doctors too narrow.
Yet, for all its shortcomings, the new healthcare law is beginning to change the face of medicine in places like Kentucky. More than 350,000 people, have signed up for Obamacare in the state.