Kansas hospitals worried about loss of dollars for charity care

In the current fiscal year, Via Christi Health — which includes this hospital on St. Francis in Wichita — is expected to receive almost $13 million from the disproportionate share payments, the most of any health care provider in the state. Hospitals use the money, a mix of federal and state dollars, to offset some of the costs of caring for the uninsured. Under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, those payments are to be significantly reduced in anticipation of more people being covered by Medicaid. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling gave states the option to not expand Medicaid — meaning if Kansas chooses not to expand its Medicaid program, the state's hospitals face the loss of significant funding and may have to cut staff or services, officials said.

In the current fiscal year, Via Christi Health — which includes this hospital on St. Francis in Wichita — is expected to receive almost $13 million from the disproportionate share payments, the most of any health care provider in the state. Hospitals use the money, a mix of federal and state dollars, to offset some of the costs of caring for the uninsured. Under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, those payments are to be significantly reduced in anticipation of more people being covered by Medicaid. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling gave states the option to not expand Medicaid — meaning if Kansas chooses not to expand its Medicaid program, the state's hospitals face the loss of significant funding and may have to cut staff or services, officials said. by Phil Cauthon

Many Kansas hospital officials say they are worried that if state policymakers choose not to expand eligibility for the state’s Medicaid program, the hospitals will see a significant drop in the money they receive to help care for patients who can’t or won’t pay their medical bills.

Currently, 64 of the state’s 127 hospitals divide about $51.3 million a year in what are called Medicaid disproportionate share payments.

They use the money, a mix of federal and state dollars, to offset some of the costs of caring for the uninsured.

“It’s a significant amount of funding for us,” said Bruce Witt, director of governmental relations at Via Christi Health in Wichita.

In the current fiscal year, Via Christi Health is expected to receive almost $13 million from the disproportionate share payments, the most of any health care provider in the state.

Under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, those payments are to be significantly reduced, starting in October.

“We’re being told that ‘disproportionate share’ won’t be completely phased out, but that roughly 50 percent will be going away,” said Tom Bell, chief executive of the Kansas Hospital Association. “It may end up being somewhere between 50 and 75 percent. We don’t know at this point.”

Though Via Christi could expect to lose the most dollars, the smaller, rural hospitals likely would be the hardest hit proportionately based on an analysis done for the KHI News Service by its parent organization, the Kansas Health Institute. The analysis calculated the likely revenue hit on each Kansas hospital based on recent payment histories, bed counts and inpatient stays.

State option on Medicaid

The law’s design, Bell said, preceded the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 28, 2012 ruling that gives states the option of choosing to not expand their Medicaid coverage to include non-disabled, childless adults whose incomes fall below 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

Since the ruling, governors in at least 10 states – Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, South Carolina, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Texas - have said they will not expand Medicaid eligibility.

“Our lieutenant governor is saying he’s not sure that DSH (disproportionate share) is going away because the (U.S.) Supreme Court has said the federal government can’t penalize states for not going along with the Medicaid expansion,” said Shawn Rossi, a vice president with the Mississippi Hospital Association.

“We don’t know if that’s a correct assumption,” Rossi said, “but we are for sure telling our legislators that if DSH goes away, we’re definitely going to need something to take its place. We see a very large number of people who are uninsured.”

Brownback looking it over

Kansas’ Gov. Sam Brownback has been an outspoken opponent of the Affordable Care Act, has not yet decided whether to implement the Medicaid expansion.

Continue reading on khi.org.

Tagged: obamacare, medicaid, act, aca, brownback, hospitals, share, disproportionate, affordable, dsh, expansion, care, kansas

Comments

Dan Eyler 1 year, 11 months ago

Government must change the requirement that they treat all all those who enter the ER. At least half of the patients don't require this level of service. But since so many people use the ER rather than minor emergency clinics hospitals need minor emergency clinics near their emergency rooms where patients can be treated at a much lower cost. But we must stop the volume of patients from showing up in the ER. Otherwise Toe is an idiot.

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