MONDAY MARCH 26, 2012
I’m tuned in to C-SPAN this week and assorted blogs to follow the Supreme Court arguments on the future of the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare, depending on what side of the political fence you sit on.) I’m disappointed the Supreme Court is not televising the oral arguments. And as an attorney, I will be listening in particular to what Justices Kennedy, Scalia and Roberts are asking. They’re the potential swing votes that could ultimately decide this case.
I’ve been asked often for my take on repealing the Affordable Care Act. I certainly can’t predict the outcome, but I do know this: The biggest worry for healthcare providers (and their patients) is that the Court will strike down the individual mandate but leave the rest of the law intact – including billions of dollars in funding cuts to healthcare.
Under the ACA, the nation’s hospitals will see $155 billion in cuts over nine years, including $4.5 billion in cuts for New Jersey hospitals. Moving forward, those cuts would be devastating for our industry if they are not balanced by the promise of 3O million newly insured individuals under the ACA. Hospitals conceded these cuts because we thought it was the right thing to do to provide health insurance coverage to more Americans, but we can only withstand the cuts if we are caring for more insured patients. We can't continue to care for the same number of uninsured and absorb the cuts as well. That's why we believe the ACA must be upheld in its totality, and if the Court strikes down the mandate it must also strike down provider reductions.
If those deep healthcare cuts are not offset by more people with health insurance, that’s a worst-case scenario for our healthcare system. And that’s a worry not just for the uninsured, but for everyone who counts on access to quality healthcare in their communities.