PA hospitals bear $1B uncompensated care burden

Unless the Keystone State moves to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, Pennsylvania's hospitals should expect to carry a 10-figure annual burden regarding uncompensated care, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Andy Carter, chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania Hospital and Healthsystem Association (PHHA), said during a speech earlier this week that his constituents should expect to shoulder $1 billion in uncompensated care if the state does not move to expand Medicaid coverage next year.

Gov. Tom Corbett has said he would accept the funding, but wants to use it to develop a program that would allow the sate to purchase coverage for about 350,000 uninsured residents instead of expanding the state Medicaid program. The proposal is similar to an Arkansas proposal that was recently approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services 

"There is nothing definitive," Corbett Administration official Christine Cronkright told the Inquirer. "We're working to expedite the conversations with HHS. Decisions need to be made on both sides, and hopefully, these decisions will be made quickly."

An expansion of Medicaid would net Pennsylvania about $4 billion a year in federal funding.

About 1.3 million Pennsylvanians--16 percent of those who are of working age--currently lack insurance, according to a report from the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.

The extra Medicaid money would be used to insure an estimated 600,000 Pennsylvanians who currently lack coverage but don't earn enough money to purchase subsidized policies on the exchange. The federal government would fund the expansion at 100 percent through 2016, with Pennsylvania having to cover 10 percent of the cost afterward.

To learn more:
- read the Philadelphia Inquirer article
- here's the PHHA report on the uninsured

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