Several hospital systems around the country are scaling back assistance for lower income patients who lack health care, The New York Times reports. Meanwhile, some safety-net hospitals say they are already seeing fewer uninsured patients because of the coverage expansion in the health law. Also, the IRS issues a new rule that will make it harder for employers to move workers onto the insurance marketplaces.
The New York Times: Hospitals Look To Health Law, Cutting Charity
Hospital systems around the country have started scaling back financial assistance for lower- and middle-income people without health insurance, hoping to push them into signing up for coverage through the new online marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act. The trend is troubling to advocates for the uninsured, who say raising fees will inevitably cause some to skip care rather than buy insurance that they consider unaffordable (Goodnaugh, 5/25).
USA Today/Kaiser Health News: An Obamacare Winner: Safety-Net Hospitals
One of the biggest beneficiaries of the health law's expansion of coverage to more than 13 million people this year has been the nation's safety-net hospitals, which treat a disproportionate share of poor and uninsured people and therefore face billions of dollars in unpaid bills. Such facilities had expected to see a drop in uninsured patients seeking treatment, but the change has been faster and deeper than most anticipated -; at least in the 25 states that expanded Medicaid in January, according to interviews with safety-net hospital officials across the country (Galewitz, 5/24).
The New York Times: I.R.S. Bars Employers From Dumping Workers Into Health Exchanges
Many employers had thought they could shift health costs to the government by sending their employees to a health insurance exchange with a tax-free contribution of cash to help pay premiums, but the Obama administration has squelched the idea in a new ruling. Such arrangements do not satisfy the health care law, the administration said, and employers may be subject to a tax penalty of $100 a day -; or $36,500 a year -; for each employee who goes into the individual marketplace. The ruling this month, by the Internal Revenue Service, blocks any wholesale move by employers to dump employees into the exchanges (Pear, 5/25).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.