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Health Care Reform Unfinished, Part 1: Hospitals Take A Hit

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File photo. (credit: CBS3)

File photo. (credit: CBS3)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This week, KYW Newsradio is presenting a special report, “Health Care Reform – Unfinished.”

Surveys find there are nine-Million fewer uninsured after the enrollment period prescribed by the Affordable Care Act.

But that alone does not equal success for the Act, known as Obamacare.

Hospitals have not yet realized the savings of universal health care but they’re already feeling the bite of cuts in payments.

The Hospital Association of Pennsylvania embraced health care reform.

Hospitals had provided Billions in uncompensated care and the promise of universal coverage appealed not only to their bottom line but their values.

“The hospital community signed up for this as part of improving health and health care,” says
Priscilla Koutsouradis of Hap’s Delaware Valley Healthcare Council “they agreed to $7-Billion in medicare and medicaid cuts to help pay for the Act.”

Koutsouradis says, “over time, people would be healthier and there would be a better use of health care resources because you wouldn’t be taking care of uninsured people who put off care and when they finally came to the emergency room, they were really sick.”

The key words there are “over time.”

The cuts have started, the savings haven’t and hospitals are cutting staff and services to compensate.

Federal officials maintain reforms are already increasing the quality of care and decreasing costs, citing a drop in hospital readmission rates.

They acknowledged that some hospitals have been hurt by reform but say others– rewarded for better quality– have gained.

But at a safety net hospital like Einstein, vice president Bill Ryan says, it’s not a level playing field.

“Hospitals that serve the city as a whole are shouldering the burden higher than the hospitals surrounding us,” Ryan says.

Ryan says Einstein is also hurt by Pennsylvania’s failure to expand Medicaid, which means people are still coming to the emergency room for care with no way to pay.

More about that in a later report.

Local hospitals try to make the math work on health care reform.

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