Obamacare Harms Not So Unknown
Covering implementation of President Barack Obama’s health care bill, Lisa Girion reports in the April 5th Los Angeles Times:
One of the rationales for the healthcare overhaul was that it would ease pressure on emergency rooms like St. Joe’s. As more people acquire insurance, the idea goes, more will get regular medical care. But will it work?
The new law also will increase the number of people on Medi-Cal. Because the government health program for the poor pays less than private insurers, hospitals will be pressured to treat more people at lower cost per case, said St. Joe’s chief executive, Barry Wolfman.
Girion is right to question whether increasing Medicaid patients would do anything to help overwhelmed hospitals like St. Joe’s. For starters, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that those with health insurance utilize emergency rooms at the same rate as uninsured persons. Second, after Massachusetts instituted there universal health care plan emergency room use remained higher than the national average. Respondents told researchers the reason why they chose emergency room care even though they had insurance was because it was easier to go to the emergency room than to find a doctor who would take their insurance.
Finally, the President’s own Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) predicts that Obamacare will make it much more difficult for Medicaid patients to find doctors that will settle for the program’s low reimbursement rates.
So a good job by Girion quoting Wolfman on the trouble’s Obamacare will cause for hospitals like St. Joe’s. But she could have identified some research showing these side effects are well known and will be widespread.