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NO MONEY, NO BEDS: Hospitals ruthlessly cutting out charity cases to further Obamacare

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/27/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Experts say that even stricter rules are on the way

It appears to be a case of Obamacare - OR ELSE! Hospitals across the United States are ruthlessly cutting down on charity cases in an attempt to have more people sign up for Obamacare. Financial assistance for lower and middle-income people without health insurance is being scaled back - and even stricter regulations are on the way, experts say.

Many uninsured people also remain unaware of the new insurance options and immigrants who are in the country illegally are not even eligible to apply.

Many uninsured people also remain unaware of the new insurance options and immigrants who are in the country illegally are not even eligible to apply.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
5/27/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Obamacare, federal funds, hospitals, chairty


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Advocates for the uninsured say that raising fees will inevitably cause some to skip health care altogether rather than buy insurance that they consider unaffordable.

The number of hospitals tightening access to free or discounted care appears limited so far. Spearheading these new policies is the cost of charity care, which is partly covered by government but remains a burden for many hospitals.

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The new regulations reduces federal aid to hospitals that treat large numbers of poor and uninsured people, which in turn creates an additional pressure on some to restrict charity care.

Recent examples include the Barnes-Jewish Hospital in Saint Louis, Missouri. That hospital has started charging co-payments to uninsured patients, no matter how poor they are. In addition, the Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua no longer provides free care for most uninsured patients who are above the federal poverty line - $11,670 for an individual.

In heightening requirements for charity care, hospital executives say that they hope to encourage eligible people to obtain low-cost insurance through the subsidized private plans now available under the law.

"Do we allow our charity care programs to kick in if people are unwilling to sign up?" Nancy M. Schlichting, chief executive of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit says. "Our inclination is to say we will not, because it just seems that that defeats the purpose of what the Affordable Care Act has put in place."

Uninsured advocates point out that many Americans avoided obtaining coverage in the inaugural enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act this year because they found the plans too expensive, even with subsidies.

Many uninsured people also remain unaware of the new insurance options and immigrants who are in the country illegally are not even eligible to apply.

"Certainly we want to encourage people who have new access to affordable coverage to take advantage of it," Sidney D. Watson, a professor at St. Louis University's Center for Health Law Studies says. "But I think we're all going to have to do a lot to get that message out, and there will always be people who won't have the option."

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