ACA is big boost to bottom line of safety net hospitals

The Affordable Care Act is restoring health to the bottom lines of safety net hospitals.

Harborview Medical Center in Seattle has seen its number of uninsured patients drop from 12 percent in 2013 to 2 percent to date this year, USA Today reports. As a result, the organization expects to boost its revenue by $20 million, up about 2.5 percent.

Harborview is not the only hospital to see its bottom line improve thanks to the ACA. Both Denver Health in Colorado and the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Hospital (UAMSH) report their numbers of uninsured fell by about half, according to USA Today.

"This is really phenomenal," Ellen Kugler, executive director of the National Association of Urban Hospitals, told USA Today. "It shows the Affordable Care Act is clearly working in these locations."

Some hospitals, such as UAMSH, reported immediate drops in the number of uninsured. "We have seen a steady decline in our uninsured visits," said Roxane Townsend, the hospital's chief executive officer. "We did not anticipate this big a drop this quickly." In addition, the number of uninsured patients visiting emergency rooms (ERs) dropped by a third during the first quarter of 2014.

Denver Health has also seen a large uptick in the number of patients using primary care services--along with a drop in uninsured ER visits.

But not all hospitals share in this largesse-- just those in states that agreed to expand Medicaid eligibility under the ACA, according to USA Today.

Altogether, two dozen states have yet to expand Medicaid eligibility. In those states--mostly in the South and Midwest--hospitals continue to struggle, particularly rural facilities in Georgia, although larger facilities are under pressure as well. Even before the ACA took effect, policy analysts suggested that lawmakers expand Medicaid payments to safety net providers.

To learn more:
- read the USA Today article