The nation's hospital lobbying groups are warning that President-elect Donald Trump's promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act could lead to massive service cuts, layoffs and hospital closures if an adequate replacement is not developed.
Assuming Congress uses the most recent ACA repeal bill, H.R. 3762, the loss of coverage would have a net negative impact on hospitals of $165.8 billion from 2018 to 2026. If the ACA's Medicare reductions are maintained, hospitals will suffer additional losses of $289.5 billion from reductions in their inflation updates, according to a report prepared by healthcare economics firm Dobson DaVanzo & Associates on behalf of the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals.
“Losses of this magnitude cannot be sustained and will adversely impact patients' access to care, decimate hospitals' and health systems' ability to provide services, weaken local economies that hospitals help sustain and grow and result in massive job losses,” the trade groups said in letters sent Tuesday to both Trump and Congress, which will be fully controlled by Republicans.
The AHA and FAH argued an ACA replacement option should not only ensure expanded insurance coverage, but also restore Medicare hospital inflation updates as well as disproportionate share hospital payments that were cut to offset coverage gains under the law.
Moving forward, the groups plan to roll out a lobbying effort with anecdotes of hospitals that they say will be left in dire straits if an adequate replacement is not developed and if the funding cuts funds are not restored.
Joann Anderson, president and CEO of Southeastern Health in Lumberton, N.C., said on a call with reporters Tuesday that additional cuts would likely lead to a loss of behavioral services at her system, which is a primary provider of such care in that region. Approximately 72% of Southeastern Health's patients are on Medicare and Medicaid.
“For this community and surrounding areas, that would be catastrophic,” Anderson said.