Iowa hospitals are urging the state’s congressional delegation to vote against the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the bill designed to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and which is expected to be voted on in the House today.
It’s estimated that this legislation would cause 24 million Americans to lose insurance coverage. In Iowa, it is estimated that 200,000 individuals who gained coverage under the ACA would lose their health care coverage. Because of this loss of coverage, Iowa’s hospitals would be called upon to care for more uninsured individuals through more expensive means, often in the emergency room.
Uncompensated and charity care will drastically rise again, causing concern for the viability of health care services in rural communities in Iowa and throughout the nation. Despite this loss of coverage and expectation for hospitals to shoulder the increased burden, the AHCA fails to restore billions of dollars in cuts to hospital payments that were part of the ACA.
Additionally, the proposal to change Medicaid from a federal-state partnership to a program that simply provides per-capita lump-sum payments to the states raises serious worries about the future coverage of 630,000 Iowa residents who depend on the program. Most notably, this fundamental change in Medicaid could eventually force the state, facing another tight budget year, to reduce care or tighten eligibility requirements, creating more uninsured, unhealthy Iowans.
The AHCA will not improve the health and well-being of Iowans. In fact, it will do the opposite. This legislation would return the nation to the dark days when the uninsured rate reached double digits and millions of families didn’t have access to primary and preventive care. That means a less healthy population and higher health care costs. It also means that health care providers will once again carry the burden of providing safety-net care. The impact will be borne by all health care consumers and taxpayers who will experience cost shifts to pay for that care.
AHCA will leave more Iowans without health insurance coverage and harm Iowa’s hospitals and communities.
IHA is asking hospital advocates to reach out to their US House members to vote “no” on AHCA. If you stand with Iowa’s hospitals, click here to send a message to Congress.