- Associated Press - Friday, May 5, 2017

SEATTLE (AP) - The executive director of Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center said Friday the hospital could lose more than $627 million a year starting in 2026 when the full impact of the Republican health care bill passed Thursday by the House of Representatives would be realized.

Hospital officials said the potential loss would come through a combined reduction in federal revenue and increase in costs of charity and uncompensated care, The Seattle Times reported (https://goo.gl/cUYtq7).

Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell joined Paul Hayes at the medical center to talk about the legislation heralded by President Donald Trump as a “big win” on Twitter.

“In addition to adverse financial impact, you can only imagine the dramatic impact it will have in the health of those we serve,” Hayes said of the bill it became law in its current form.

Murray, who is part of the Senate’s minority party, predicted that wouldn’t happen. “This awful, disastrous Trumpcare bill is a complete nonstarter” in the Senate, she said.

The bulk of the Harborview cuts wouldn’t start until 2020, when the bill would reduce the federal reimbursement rate to states for Medicaid spending from 90 percent to 50 percent.

That would cost Harborview, which serves many low-income people, about $275 million a year, said Ian Goodhew, chief lobbyist for UW Medicine. Harborview, owned by King County and operated by UW Medicine, treats more Medicaid patients than any hospital in the state, Goodhew said. About one-third of Harborview’s $1 billion budget is funded by Medicaid.

In addition, Harborview faces another $21 million in annual cuts in Medicare reimbursement. That reduction was prescribed by President Barack Obama’s health care law under the rationale that with more low-income people covered by health insurance, hospitals would spend less on uncompensated or charity care.

Harborview also projects a $330 million annual loss because of growing costs associated with charity and uncompensated care and a reduction in additional payments the federal government makes to hospitals, like Harborview, that disproportionately serve the poor, Goodhew said.

All of those reductions assume the state of Washington won’t step in and increase Medicaid spending.

The cuts also mean that advocates and lobbyists for health care providers and consumers will press the Senate to change the House measure.

Republicans claimed success Thursday after pushing through their bill that would scrap much of Obama’s health care law. The bill’s path through the Senate is far less clear, and the measure would likely change significantly before it would pass, if it passes at all.

Cantwell estimated the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would take $1.4 billion out of Washington state’s economy per year. She also said 14 million Medicaid recipients nationwide and 600,000 Washingtonians would lose coverage under the bill passed by the House.

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Information from: The Seattle Times, https://www.seattletimes.com


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