Originally Posted Online: March 15, 2013, 9:26 pm
Last Updated: March 16, 2013, 12:06 am
Iowa's approach to Medicaid expansion could cost Trinity millions
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By Anthony Watt, firstname.lastname@example.org
Trinity Health Systems will lose money if Iowa does not adopt the Medicaid expansion included in the federal Affordable Care Act.
Commonly called Obamacare, the health care reform passed in 2010 initially forced all states to expand Medicaid. The law was challenged and reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court, with the act surviving but the Medicaid expansion optional for states.
Illinois plans to follow that portion of the bill. But if Iowa does not, Trinity is expecting a $2 million annual cost just for the Bettendorf facility for treating uninsured and under-insured patients, Rick Seidler, Trinity president and CEO said Friday afternoon.
Mr. Seidler explained the effects of the decision with Iowa state Reps. Phyllis Thede, D-Bettendorf, and Frank Wood, D-Eldridge, and state Sens. Chris Brase, D-Muscatine and Rita Hart, D-Wheatland.
"Without that expansion, we're afraid there's no safety net," he said.
Mr. Seidler said the Medicaid expansion is an integral part of the federal health care package. Leaving it out, he said, would weaken the whole framework provided under the law.
A bill outlining the adoption of Medicaid expansion has left an Iowa Senate committee, but action is still needed by the full Senate, as well as the Iowa House of Representatives.
It also must be signed by Gov. Terry Branstad who has presented his own proposal called the Healthy Iowa Plan to provide healthcare to the poor, according to the legislators at Friday's meeting.
A news release on the governor's website provided some details of the plan, but there is no statement directly calling it an alternative to the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion. Instead, the plan is described as using a "sustainable financing strategy that provides hardworking Iowa taxpayers with budget certainty."
"The proposal fits within Branstad's two-year budget and five-year budget projection with a total funding pool of $162 million," the site states."New funding for the plan comes through Medicaid savings created by synchronizing traditional Medicaid eligibility with benefits available through the Affordable Care Act.
"The savings is redirected to covering uninsured Iowans at or below the poverty level."
The plan targets about 89,000 Iowans identified as uninsured who also earn less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level, the March 4 release states.Iowans above that level would get tax credits to help buy private health insurance, according to an additional report included with the release.
The legislators and Mr. Seidler expressed concerns about the measure, mainly because the entire plan has yet to be unveiled.Mr. Seidler said that, based on what he knows of it so far, he does not know if it would have the required funds to cover all those needing care.
More on Gov. Branstad's plan can be found at https://governor.iowa.gov/2013/03/branstad-reynolds-to-implement-modernized-health-care-program/ .