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Home E-Weekly December 13, 2016

Hospital Groups Warn Against Repealing Obamacare Without Replacement in Place

Published: December 12, 2016

BIG PLANS What will Donald Trump's replacement legislation include?

Republican leaders who want to repeal Obamacare as soon as Donald Trump takes office better have a replacement law in place, according to a pair of powerful hospital industry groups, who say failing to immediately enact legislation would cost facilities nationwide the billions in funding they rely on to provide care to the uninsured, poor and disabled.

In a letter to Republican and Democratic congressional leaders, Richard Pollack, CEO of the American Hospital Association, and Charles Kahn, president and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, implored Congress to ensure plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act include replacement legislation that eliminates cuts to Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments — federal funds given to hospitals that care for a large number of Medicaid patients and uninsured individuals — and maintains Medicare inflation payment updates.

The hospital leaders say the Restoring American's Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act (H.R. 3762), which last spring passed through Congress before being vetoed by President Obama, included billions in cuts intended to fund care of patients in need. Repealing and replacing Obamacare with another version of H.R. 3762 would result in $165.8 billion in lost revenue from restoration of the Medicaid DSH cuts and nearly $300 billion in deficits from the lack of inflation payment updates, according to the hospital groups.

However, say the hospital leaders, the Empowering Patients First Act proposed by Representative Tom Price, MD (R-Ga.), who Mr. Trump recently tabbed to head the Department of Health and Human Services, is "clean slate" legislation that would protect hospitals from critical cuts in government spending.

This issue is another example of the difficulty Republicans might face in following through on their promise to repeal and replace the complex and far-reaching ACA legislation, which is engrained in many levels of health care.

Daniel Cook

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