Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding most of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 contained both good news and bad news, according to Keith F. Safian, President and CEO of Phelps Memorial Hospital Center located in suburban Westchester County.
“The high court’s decision is a great step forward in addressing the healthcare needs of our community,” said Safian. “By upholding most of the Act, the Court has made it clear that some people in our region who are currently uninsured will soon have coverage, and that is certainly all to the good.”
According to Safian, however, the decision works against the interests of hospitals because the law leaves the many undocumented aliens in our region without health insurance. “Hospitals are committed to care for sick people regardless of their ability to pay,” Safian said, “so if a major segment of uninsured patients is not eligible for coverage, we are effectively providing those services for free.”
He pointed out that the Act has already reduced the rates that Phelps and all other hospitals in the region are reimbursed for providing care to Medicare patients. “These cuts, which started in 2010, increase each year and total $45,000,000 for Phelps over 10 years,” Safian said. “In 2013, we project that we will be cut by $1,600,000 and five years from now, the annual reimbursement cuts to Phelps will be $8,000,000.”
“How can they expect us to provide more care to sicker patients with lower payments?” asked Safian. “My concern is that the Affordable Care Act will hit hospitals very hard and have a negative impact on the high quality of care and broad scope of services that all our local hospitals are dedicated to provide.”