Suver looks to Senate for better healthcare solution

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Suver looks to Senate for  better healthcare solutionAmong those disappointed by last week’s passage of House Resolution 1628 to repeal the Affordable Care Act are the leaders of Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, who continue to express concern about the impact the proposed American Health Care Act will have on providers — particularly those who serve rural populations.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, one of the primary proponents of the AHCA, addressed Ridgecrest constituents on the subject during a local appearance several weeks ago. He said that the expansion of Medicaid nationwide has created an unsustainable spending model that will balloon into a $1 -trillion debt within the next decade.

Premiums have priced traditional coverage out of reach for the typical subscriber, and insurance companies are collapsing around the country, he said. (See his full remarks online at majorityleader.gov/2017/05/04/ obamacare-2/).

“We tried the Obamacare way,” he told fellow representatives in a May 4 discussion of HR 1628. “It is failing remarkably, and the American people are demanding a change.”

McCarthy said that the ACHA provides a necessary course correction toward sustainability.

“The bill is not perfect. No bill could be. The question is not why it can’t be made perfect. The question is, do we retreat or do we act?

“We were not sent here to wait. We are called to action … I do not want to read another day of headlines of more people going without insurance.”

The problem with the proposed taxing structure, said RRH Chief Executive Officer Jim Suver, is that it does not necessarily correlate to the cost of service to providers.

“This is basically a financing bill, not a healthcare bill,” he said.

Suver acknowledged deficiencies in the ACA that should be addressed, but he noted that the ACA did resolve one critical challenge for RRH and many other healthcare institutions — it provided a pathway for reimbursement of critical, and compulsory, services.

Before ACA was enacted, uninsured patients often waited until health challenges were severe enough to be treated through the emergency department — the most expensive method of care delivery by an order of magnitude, but also the one place patients cannot be turned away regardless of inability to pay for services.

By increasing access, healthcare legislation allowed thousands of local residents to seek preventive care, thus reducing the number of crisis-level cases and ultimately mitigating the RRH?financial burden.

“In a realistic assessment of stopping the Medicaid, or MediCal, expansion, I am skeptical about whether that will really save costs,” said Suver. “The patient still has to be cared for, but the result will be that the hospital will have to do so without reimbursement.

“That means we have to implement changes, including adjustments to what we charge for services. And ultimately we could see a reduction from our current level of service.”

The silver lining, according to Suver, is that most analysts believe the Senate will not embrace the House’s solution. “Based on some of the initial feedback I’ve gotten from our lobbyist, the Senate will be more deliberative,” he said.

“I believe they will be conducting an actual cost-benefit analysis to see how many people will be hurt through this change compared to what may or may not be saved. That’s a good start.

“Some of our senators have also indicated more interest in listening to providers to get the necessary data to inform their plans. I’m very encouraged by that, and we will be reaching out to the offices of [Senators] Feinstein and Harris.”

Suver said he is disappointed at the apparent failure of local representatives to listen to feedback from providers.

“Let’s put politics away and start doing the right thing by our country. The public needs to know that they are being heard, and that their needs won’t be forgotten.”

Story First Published: 2017-05-12