Why SC Hospitals Support Federal Health Reform
Faced with $1 billion worth of uncompensated care each year, South Carolina hospitals have few options for balancing their budgets. The federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) requires hospitals to treat any person who walks into the emergency room, even if the patient is unable to pay for that care and no matter how much it costs. This creates a great financial burden on hospitals, which is passed on in the form of higher hospital bills to insured patients and employers who provide insurance coverage.
Currently 50.9 million Americans are uninsured. The new federal health reform law is a plan to help 32 million of those Americans by expanding Medicaid to some and making more affordable coverage available to other individuals and employers. This will relieve much of the financial burden currently being borne by businesses and individuals who have health insurance.
Reform Is Not A Job-Killer. It Is A Job-Saver.
Without reform, hospitals will continue to cut services, lay off workers and charge insured patients more. As higher hospital bills push insurance premiums up for businesses that provide coverage, employers will have to decide whether to cut coverage, reduce wages or lay off workers. The reform act also provides federal funding for the training and hiring of additional health care workers, thereby creating more jobs.
Basic Medicare Benefits Will Remain Intact.
The $500 billion in “cuts” to Medicare is largely a reduction in the growth of the program over the next 10 years and will not affect Medicare benefits. Hospitals have agreed to $155 billion in future Medicare reimbursement cuts to pay for reform. Hospitals’ efforts to improve efficiency and quality have already begun in South Carolina and are demonstrating remarkable results.
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