An editorial from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register
WHEELING, W.Va. — West Virginians for Affordable Health Care picked some numbers to crunch from data collected by the West Virginia Health Care Authority. They say their statistics show declines in “uncompensated care” have saved Mountain State hospitals millions of dollars, all thanks, as you may guess from the source, to Obamacare.
It is true that since 2013 more than 200,000 West Virginians have been forced by law to get health insurance either through Medicaid or the health insurance marketplace. The fines charged for not doing so are quite persuasive.
Medicaid is not free, however. Remember when Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin was forced to cut agency spending by $70 million, made $14.5 million in one-time reductions, used $50.4 million from fiscal year 2014 surpluses and relied on the Rainy Day Fund to close a fiscal 2015 budget gap? The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation says that shortfall “was driven largely by projected Medicaid expenditure increases.”
Meanwhile, as Renee Cross, vice president of finance for Thomas Health System, which operates two hospitals in Charleston, explained, care received by patients generally exceeds what is covered by Medicaid reimbursements.
“In fiscal year 2014, Thomas Health System lost almost $10 million on taking care of Medicaid patients,” Cross said. “We estimate that we will continue to lose more than $8 million taking care of our Medicaid population. Thomas Health System has seen about a 30 percent decline in bad debt and charity care combined, but has seen more than a corresponding increase in Medicaid volume and write-offs.”
And, President and CEO of the West Virginia Hospital Association Joe Letnaunchyn told the Associated Press any benefit from Medicaid expansion has been offset by cuts to Medicare. The rosy picture painted by the report from West Virginians for Affordable Health Care does not hold up to even the slightest scrutiny.
That comes as no surprise, of course, in view of the track record of veracity involving Obamacare.
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