WNPR

Connecticut Hospitals And Health Centers Brace For Impact Of Republican Bill

Jun 28, 2017

Connecticut estimates as many as 230,000 of its residents on Medicaid could lose insurance coverage in the next ten years if the Senate Republicans' health bill is passed, and the state will have to shoulder an additional $3 billion in cost.

States all over the country have been crunching the numbers coming out of the non-partisan analysis of the bill carried out by the Congressional Budget Office.

The major impact to Connecticut is in the rollback of the Medicaid expansion. Depending on how Connecticut decides to deal with the changes, the reduction in federal funds by 2026 is the equivalent in coverage to 80,000 to 230,000 fewer people served.

"In reality, states will either have to chip in the rest of the funds to keep their expansion populations insured, or they'll have to decide, we can’t maintain this," said Deb Polun of the Community Health Center Association of Connecticut. Her organization represents 17 facilities, which serve many of the Medicaid patients who will lose coverage.

"With more patients coming in uninsured again, what's likely to happen is a reduction in access to care," she explained to WNPR. "We're going to have to leave open vacant positions, we're going to probably have to reduce hours, and that’s going to mean people have to wait longer to see a physician."

Consumers who buy plans through the exchange will also see an impact; as many as 6,500 could lose the subsidies they currently get to afford their plans, and removing cost sharing federal payments could boost premiums by as much as 20 percent, according to the state's analysis.

Jennifer Jackson of the Connecticut Hospitals Association said she too has grave concerns about the effects of the legislation. More patients, she said, are likely to postpone care once again when they lose insurance, and then turn up at the emergency room, where care is much more expensive -- and for which hospitals often go unreimbursed.

"The access to routine medical care is critically important, so we want people to have coverage," said Jackson. "But I think that the other part that people don't think about, is the impact on hospitals and what that means in terms of hospitals as an economic driver."

The association estimates hospitals in Connecticut generate 200,000 jobs and contribute over $26 billion each year to the state's economy.

NPR produced a chart on the winners and losers of the health care bills based on the CBO reports:

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