The Graham-Cassidy health care bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act could strip an estimated 2 million residents in Los Angeles County of their health insurance, according to a UC Berkeley study.
That could severely impact more than 100 Los Angeles-area hospitals across the county required by law to treat any patient, regardless of their ability to pay, hospital trade associations say.
That means up to roughly one in five county residents without insurance under the new health care bill could swamp hospital emergency rooms - among the last resorts for medical care for the poor.
“The amount of uncompensated care will rise, and hospitals will lose money,” said Jan Emerson-Shea, spokeswoman for the California Hospital Association, also speaking on behalf of the Hospital Association of Southern California. “I’m sure it’ll have a major impact on Los Angeles County hospitals.”
The healthcare bill proposed by Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy would transform federal funding for the Medicaid expansion and subsidized health coverage through Affordable Care Act insurance marketplaces.
While making massive cuts in Medicaid for needy residents, it would convert federal funding to block grants to states from 2020 and 2026. The funding would cease beginning in 2027.
The California Hospital Association estimated the Golden State would lose $148 billion in federal funds between 2020 and 2026, and $57.5 billion in 2027 and each year thereafter. Some estimates by other agencies were even higher.
The UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education projected this week that 6.7 million Californians would lose health insurance in 2027, a vast majority who it said would remain uninsured.
Of those, according to a study, almost two million residents in Los Angeles County would lose health insurance, including subsidized Covered California enrollees and adults, children, seniors and disabled residents on Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid.
This could impact the bottom line of the nearly 125 hospitals throughout L.A. County, among the 400 hospitals throughout the state.
“You cannot sustain losing money treating 6.7 million people,” said Emerson-Shea. “It will decimate the health delivery system in California. We will likely see some hospitals being forced to close.”
The head of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles this week vehemently opposed the new healthcare measure. Each year, the hospital sees nearly 530,000 patient visits, and 70 percent of its patients are insured through Medi-Cal.
“This bill promises draconian cuts that would weaken funding, coverage and benefits for millions of children and their families,” Paul S. Viviano, the hospital’s president and chief executive, said in a statement.
Health business reporter Dana Bartholomew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @_DanaBart.