If too many people choose to live without health insurance after the deadline for buy coverage passes this month, hospitals around the state may be hurt financially. That’s because under the Affordable Care Act, federal reimbursement to hospitals which treat many uninsured patients will be cut. The justification is that there will be fewer people without coverage thanks to the law.
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That worries hospital executives such as Mark Newton of Chicago’s Swedish Covenant Hospital, who fears that even if enrollment in Illinois meets projections, his hospital and others may have to make cuts. “Unless enrollment rates pick up, storied hospitals may be forced to cut back services and cut back employment levels,” Newton said. Newton says he has long been concerned that the projected enrollment was already too low to avoid this problem.
The hospitals that would feel the effects are ones that treat a greater share of uninsured patients, usually located in poor urban or rural areas. Newton says his hospital will lose $10 million in federal funds.