Health reform law has been good for hospital finances, health-care costs, Obama administration says

U.S. hospitals have saved billions of dollars because the federal health-reform law has provided coverage for patients who were once charity cases, the Obama administration announced Monday, the fifth anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“Hospitals also saw fewer emergency room visits, which rack up far higher costs and often leave hospitals with the tab,” Sarah Ferris writes for The Hill, which covers Congress. “The government’s report, which focuses on the benefits of Medicaid
expansion, is an effort to entice states that have been politically
resistant to expanding the program.”

Kentucky hospitals have acknowledged that the law has reduced their losses from “uncompensated care,” but say other aspects of the law have created a mixed effect, depending partly on hospitals’ ability to adapt. The increase in coverage has brought hospitals much more money, but they say continued problems with managed-care Medicaid have cause them financial difficulty.

From paying patients’ point of view, the law appears to have reduced inflation in health-care costs, but has not achieved advocates’ goal of reducing costs. A White House report said, “Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, health care
prices have risen at the slowest rate in nearly 50
years
. Thanks to
exceptionally slow growth in per-person costs throughout our health care
system, national health expenditures grew at the slowest rate on
record from 2010 through 2013.”

For the White House’s Kentucky-specific list of benefits of the law, click here.

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