Virginia Hospitals Have Doubts About the GOP Plan to Replace the Affordable Care Act

Mar 15, 2017

Another group is stepping up to comment on the plan Republicans have proposed to replace the Affordable Care Act.  Sandy Hausman reports that the association representing more than a hundred Virginia hospitals is concerned and has its members on Capitol Hill expressing reservations.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is the principle author of the American Health Care Act, which could replace the Affordable Care Act.
Credit NPR

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association has a number of concerns with the American Health Care Act.  First, it takes issue with the plan to fund Medicaid based on the number of people in the program. This state sharply limits eligibility – only covering the poorest pregnant women, children, seniors and people with disabilities. Julian Walker speaks for the association.

“Virginia has a particularly frugal Medicaid program.  We’re 47th in per capita spending," says Julian Walker, vice president for communications at the VHHA. 

And because our representatives in Richmond refused to expand the program, Walker adds, we would continue to miss out on federal funding.

Under the American Health Care Act expansion states, at least in the near term – would continue to get the enhanced federal funding associated with the newly enrolled Medicaid expansion population.  In 2016, the 31 states that expanded Medicaid shared in $72 billion in federal funding.” 

Fortunately, he says, the Republican plan would restore some payments to medical centers that care for many low income people, but that might not be enough to prevent harm to struggling hospitals and the state’s economy overall.

“Our hospitals are major employers and economic engines, directly employing 125,000 people in Virginia," Walker explains.   "Hospitals  have a ripple effect well beyond that – billions of dollars in economic activity for our economy.”

The association also notes that tax credits for the purchase of health insurance would not be limited to low and moderate income people, reducing the amount of money available to help the poor and elderly afford coverage.