Hospital executives have been flooding Capitol Hill offices recently to discuss implications of healthcare reform as legislators consider repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Wall Street Journal reported.
The chief concern among hospital executives seems to be restoration of funding eliminated by the ACA, which included Medicare cuts and payments for treating uninsured and low-income patients.
- Various interest groups representing providers, payers, patients, and businesses will likely have enormous sway over legislation that significantly changes the healthcare landscape, as they did in 2010 when the ACA passed.
Hospitals likely have a lot to say about healthcare reform. Back in 2010, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that ACA would eliminate $232 billion in funding over ten years. It was a trade-off hospitals could accept if the ACA delivered paying patients and more than 20 million have gained coverage since. With their coverage now in doubt, hospitals are crying foul.
Hospitals have reason to be worried. The Urban Institute estimated that repeal of the ACA would lead to more than $1 trillion in uncompensated care costs over a decade. It is unclear how Republicans will proceed with regard to cuts made by the ACA. One ACA repeal bill introduced in 2015 by Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), who is now the nominee for HHS secretary would restore some of the funding, but some conservative scholars like Joseph Antos at the American Enterprise Institute are pressuring Republicans to conserve the cuts, according to the Wall Street Journal.
As lawmakers continue to debate healthcare reform, a lobbying frenzy will likely occur on Capitol Hill. At least one executive, Indiana University Health CEO Dennis Murphy, considers lobbying on healthcare reform a top priority. Hospitals are not the only powerful interest group getting in on the action. The AARP recently made clear where it stands on several key issues Congress is considering.
Lawmakers likely expected to see hordes of lobbyists on the horizon at some point. As Congress debated the ACA in 2009, more than 1,750 companies hired more than 4,000 lobbyists, around eight for each member of Congress, to influence healthcare reform, according to the Center for Public Integrity.
While members of Congress have lobbyists to confront when they are in Washington, D.C., they are facing voters at home. Supporters of the ACA have flocked to events hosted by Republican politicians in favor of repeal to defend the 2010 health law, according to Politico. These have produced heated exchanges reminiscent of grassroots opposition to the ACA that emerged in town halls not too long ago.