The recent release of statistical information from four years of hospital data by the Department of Health and Human Services overlooks an important point about a portion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The expansion of healthcare coverage for Medicaid is not about hospitals but about the health of our community and state. The current question being debated in the Legislature is really about whether to cover approximately 250,000 people with available federal funds.
McLeod Health is in favor of accepting the federal dollars for three reasons:
• Primary care for people without access to that care will improve health, lower the cost of care and prevent hospitalization. Many of these patients will never need the hospital but would have access to primary care where their health issues could be managed.
• The positive economic impact is clearly documented in the study from the USC School of Business, Medicaid Expansion in SC Report. According to USC Research Economist, Dr. Joseph Von Nessen, “If South Carolina opts into the ACA Medicaid expansion, the April 2012 Milliman study prepared for the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services estimates that it would generate a total net increase in federal funding for the state of approximately $11.2 billion between 2014 and 2020 due to newly eligible enrollees. These increased federal dollars, which signify an inject of new procurement activity to the state that would not exist otherwise, represent an unambiguous benefit to South Carolina’s economy.”
• Other portions of ACA call for Medicare payment cuts, taxes, fines, fees, increased premiums due to new coverage requirements – all set to be implemented by federal law – whether or not South Carolina accepts the available federal funds and participates in the Medicaid expansion. The State of South Carolina should not reject the first three years of federally provided coverage.
It is important that everyone remain informed about the health care issues and challenges which face us all in the weeks and months ahead.