The ACA aims to reduce these payments by as much as 75 percent, according to the National Association of Urban Hospitals. Theoretically, because more people will be insured after 2014, the hospitals will not have to bear the brunt of caring for patients for whom they are paid little or nothing.
However, several million people will still be uninsured, including undocumented residents, according to the NAUH. Also, state-run Medicaid programs typically pay providers less than the cost of the care, which will cause financial shortfalls for hospitals, the NAUH asserts.
Williams said hospitals also are worried that businesses will stop offering health insurance for their employees because it will be less expensive to take the penalty for noncompliance. Business owners that do not provide health insurance will incur an annual $2,000 fine per employee.
However, workers who are not offered health insurance by their employers may receive coverage though their state health insurance exchanges. Fifteen states have already implemented the exchanges, but Kentucky is still in the planning phase.
One recent study from McKinsey Quarterly found up to 30 percent of employers may drop health coverage if the ACA were upheld by the Supreme Court.
Providing better care
Williams said PAC is already preparing for the projected increased need for health care once more people are insured.
“Hospitals and physicians must work together more efficiently to deliver better, more coordinated care,” Williams said. “We are looking much more strategically at how we align, affiliate and employ physicians.”
Recently, PAC was able to recruit two new physicians to the area, Dr. Tamea Evans and Dr. Michael Geile, who both specialize in internal medicine, Williams said.
“We must also focus on the health-care workforce to ensure caregivers are available for the newly insured to gain access and to prepare for shifts in the model of care,” Williams said.