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Story Archives: New law unhealthy for hospital bottom line
|New law unhealthy for hospital bottom line|
Medicaid rolls are expected to rise under the federal healthcare overhaul, presenting challenges for facilities like Franklin Medical Center already struggling to pay expenses associated with patients receiving government aid, according to officials from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.
"Rural parishes like Franklin Parish should see a substantial increase in people with Medicaid and we have a limited amount of providers, so we are going to have a real problem," said Jerry Philips, undersecretary of Louisiana DHH.
By 2014, when many provisions in the new law signed last month by President Obama are to take effect, Louisiana is expected to add 400,000 people to Medicaid roles, costing the state about $350 million more in health expenses annually, said Phillips.
The new law lowers the income eligibility for a family of four to $40,000 per year for government assistance and expands Medicaid to include childless adults below the federal poverty level.
The U.S. Census Bureau lists the median income of a family in Franklin Parish at $27,433.
Officials at Franklin Medical Center expect the government will be paying for over 90 percent of the patients treated at the time new law kicks in.
Since the government only partly reimburses for patients receiving Medicaid and Medicare, Franklin Medical officials are concerned that they will be forced to do more with less under the new healthcare law. In some cases, doctors accepting Medicare are expected to have reimbursements cut by more than 20 percent.
In addition, an onslaught of new beaurocracy will add more expense, said Blake Kramer, Franklin Medical's administrator.
"There is going to be 100 to 150 more regulatory systems that we will have to deal with in the health care system, which is going to increase cost even more," he said.
Kramer said the expense is supposed to be mitigated by the government increasing the number of self-pay patients who carry health insurance with mandates that certain people must have insurance or be fined.
The problem is that at hospitals like Franklin Medical, there aren't enough self-pay patients to balance costs. Even if there were, fines collected by the government from those who were treated without insurance are not returned to hospitals, said Kramer.
It isn't yet known how much the new bill will effect hospital's bottom line until 2014.
By that time, many of the people who were involved in creating the law might not still be in office, said DHH officials.
Louisiana has fought back against unfunded mandates the new law creates by joining in a multi-state law suit against the federal government on constitutional grounds.
In a trip to Winnsboro on Monday, Gov. Bobby Jindal, who asked Louisiana Attorney General James D. "Buddy" Caldwell to file the suit, said he also supports an effort led by Louisiana Senator A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, for the state to nullify the bill.