Across the nation, ObamaCare is causing hospitals to close or to downsize, free clinics to shut down, and healthcare — when it can be obtained at all — to be delivered slowly or even rationed.
These were all predictable results of making government the dominant provider of health insurance, which the Affordable Care Act (ACA) does by subsidizing private insurance and vastly expanding Medicaid eligibility.
The expansion of Medicaid — the primary means of widening coverage under the ACA — is the main cause of these woes. The federal government simply doesn’t reimburse providers enough to make treating Medicaid patients worthwhile. Medicare, too, underpays providers, and its rolls are growing by the day as the Baby Boomers reach age 65.
“Whereas private insurance might pay the surgeon $4,500 for a spinal surgery (my specialty), Medicare paid less than $1,200,” Lee Hieb, M.D., recounts in her forthcoming book, Surviving the Medical Meltdown: Your Guide to Living Through the Disaster of Obamacare. (A summary of the book, including quotations, can be found at WND.com; WND Books is the publisher.)
Hieb, an orthopedic surgeon and past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, also points out that the federal government flatly refuses to reimburse doctors and hospitals for services it deems “not medically necessary.” Bureaucrats, rather than doctors and patients, are deciding which treatments patients should receive. Put more simply, care is being rationed, precisely as ObamaCare opponents predicted.
“The result is predictable: economic failure of hospitals and physician practices that have become dependent on government payment for large segments of their population,” Hieb writes. “The hospitals and offices that will close are those with the least private insurance.”
Thus, it comes as no shock that smaller hospitals in poorer areas, which therefore have a high concentration of Medicaid patients, are already beginning to shut their doors. WND’s Paul Bremmer reports that in 2013, 18 acute-care hospitals in the United States closed, and “at least 12 more hospitals have closed this year in rural areas alone,” with more to come. “A report at Modern Health Care just a few weeks ago confirmed that among just the critical-access hospitals, which have 25 beds or fewer, there were 14 closures in 10 states in 2013.”
Temple Community Hospital of Los Angeles, for example, closed up shop in September, citing “low reimbursement rates” and “regulatory requirements.” Vincent Pungo Hospital of Bellhaven, North Carolina, went under in July, leaving residents of what Bremmer describes as “a small, economically destitute farming town” with no nearby hospitals or emergency rooms. And the Boston-area Quincy Medical Center is slated to close by the end of the year in no small part because about 70 percent of its patients are covered by either Medicare or Medicaid.
Other hospitals feeling the ObamaCare pinch haven’t closed down yet, but they have begun laying off workers.
“While the rest of the U.S. economy is stabilizing or improving, health care is entering into a recession,” John Howser, assistant vice chancellor of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told USA Today in October.
The paper continued:
Health care providers announced more layoffs than any other industry last month — 8,128 — largely because of reductions by hospitals, according to outplacement firm Challenger Gray and Christmas. So far this year, the health care sector has announced 41,085 layoffs, the third-most behind financial and industrial companies.