The Richmond Register

Local News

July 1, 2012

Local health providers prepare for changes in services, funding

Affordable Care Act has already affected community

(Continued)

RICHMOND —

“Under ACA, many insurances will be required to cover 100 percent of the costs of several important preventive services,” Green said. “Examples include immunizations for adults and children, obesity counseling, depression screenings, contraceptives, colorectal cancer screenings and mammograms.”

Green said local health departments have already benefited from the health-care bill. The legislation created the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which provides grants for community public health initiatives. 

Five million dollars in Prevention Fund grants have already been distributed in Kentucky, and the money has been used for programs that reduce tobacco use, prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and modernize vaccine systems, according to www.healthcare.gov.

Hospitals have concerns

Jill Williams, spokesperson for Pattie A. Clay Regional Medical Center, said the impact of ACA on the hospital will be not entirely beneficial.

“With the ACA being upheld, more people will have coverage, which is good news,” Williams said via email. “However, because Kentucky has one of the lowest per-capita income levels in the nation, it is expected that the vast majority of uninsured Kentuckians will be covered under Medicaid — not under private health insurance.”

Williams said with the additional people added to the Medicaid rolls in 2014, along with the 800,000 already in the program, more than 1 million Kentuckians (one in four people) will have Medicaid.

“While some people may think that hospitals will benefit from health-care reform, this is not the case in Kentucky,” Williams said. “The ACA contains severe Medicare and Medicaid payment cuts to hospitals. Because most uninsured Kentuckians will go into Medicaid instead of private insurance, the payment cuts will exceed the amount of the new revenue hospitals will receive, leaving a statewide loss projected at $1 billion.”

The cuts Williams is referring to are reductions in the Medicare and Medicaid Disproportionate Share payments. These payments are made to hospitals that serve a large number of Medicaid and uninsured individuals to help them compensate for financial losses incurred when caring for these patients, according to the National Association of Urban Hospitals.

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