THA head reacts to Obamacare ruling
AUSTIN — The head of the Texas Hospital Association said Thursday his organization wants to continue to work with legislators to continue to improve affordability for patients in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the individual mandate to purchase insurance or pay a tax.
The decision benchmarks a significant milestone taken to improve access to affordable health care, but uncertainty remains around how the state will address the expansion of Medicaid. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Medicaid expansion is constitutional; however, states will not lose their current Medicaid funding if they choose not to expand.
While PPACA will certainly help reduce Texas’ large uninsured population, almost half were expected to become enrolled in the Medicaid program. Earlier estimates were that 4.1 million Texans would become insured because of PPACA, but that number could drastically fall if Texas chooses not to expand Medicaid and low income individuals cannot afford to buy private insurance.
Under PPACA, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs for those who are newly eligible for Medicaid for 2014 through 2016. In 2017, the federal share begins decreasing but never falls below 90 percent. More than $112 billion in federal funds could be available to Texas over the next 10 years for the newly eligible.
“Texas hospitals recognize there are concerns with expanding the Medicaid population, but given the state’s high number of uninsured, all options for gaining insurance coverage must be closely considered,” said Dr. Dan Stultz, THA president/chief executive officer. “Under PPACA, a significant number of low income individuals could gain insurance without any cost to the state of Texas for several years. Without the Medicaid expansion, many will remain uninsured, shifting costs to the insured and increasing uncompensated care to health care providers.
“The law was never meant to fix all the problems facing the health care system,” Stultz said. “Texas hospitals look forward to a continued discussion on how to improve the effects of the law for patients, families and communities.”