The Senate's discussion draft of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, was released on June 22. In a recent letter to Mississippi Senators, MHA outlined our comments and concerns regarding the AHCA and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act as well as other regulatory issues facing the health care industry.
The Senate bill has yet to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office, which will release the estimate of the impact on health coverage, but we know millions of Americans will lose health coverage as a result of the deep cuts proposed. This draft, though likely changing in the coming days, could be worse for our state’s Medicaid program and hospitals than the House’s version of the bill. MHA has significant concerns about the Senate version and the reductions of health care coverage that would result.
Mississippi hospitals need:
- Restoring of the Medicare cuts made through sequestration
- Full funding of the Medicaid program for the nearly 750,000 Mississippians that depend on the program for health care
- Protection of essential health benefits, especially pre-existing conditions
- Reinstate DSH funding and increase safety net funding
- Protection and strengthening of our state's rural hospitals
- Adjustment of the Medicare wage index calculation, as it currently penalizes non-Metropolitan designated areas
- Preservation of the 340B program
- Strengthening of funding and programs for mental health services
The Senate bill allows states to choose between block grant or per-capita support for their Medicaid population beginning in 2020. Unlike the House version, the caps on Medicaid appear to be stricter and may cut the program deeper over time.
The House version of the bill restored the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital cuts to hospitals that were about $400 million over 10 years. The Senate version does not. The bill maintains the cuts to hospitals contained in the ACA that were meant to pay for the coverage expansions, for which Mississippi hospitals paid though our state did not expand Medicaid.
Healthcare should not be a political issue. All of us, regardless of our political beliefs, will need the services of our hospitals and other healthcare providers at some point in our lives – whether it’s the birth of a newborn child or the last days of a loved one’s life. Sometimes we can plan for the services that we need, but often, traumatic circumstances dictate the timing for us.
Time after time, Mississippi hospitals have been there in those times of need. For Mississippi hospitals, their time of need is now.