Health Officials Detail Payment Cuts for Uninsured

Repost from Wall Street Journal online


The Obama administration on Monday published a plan for cuts in payments for hospitals that treat many uninsured patients and said states that decline to expand their Medicaid programs under the 2010 health law won’t get preferential treatment.

The federal government currently sends about $11 billion a year to states to help cover the costs of uncompensated care. The health law called for cuts in those payments, assuming that most Americans would have insurance coverage after the law took effect.

However, many states are leaning against expanding their Medicaid programs under the law after the Supreme Court effectively made the expansion optional. Around half of the states may decide not to opt in for the first year, leaving as many as seven million low-income people without access to Medicaid or tax subsidies toward the cost of buying their own insurance.

Hospitals in these states say they are worried their burden of caring for the uninsured will stay the same even as the federal payments to help compensate for such care decline.

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