Lawrence Memorial Hospital CEO Gene Meyer said Wednesday that he is concerned the Affordable Care Act won't provide insurance to as many people as projected when hospitals agreed to significant reductions in their Medicare reimbursements.
The Congressional Budget Office originally predicted the law would expand coverage to 32 million Americans by 2017. Last year, the CBO estimated that 7 million Americans would sign up on the new health insurance marketplace by the March deadline to avoid a fine and another 9 million would become eligible for Medicaid under the program's expansion. The state of Kansas has declined to participate in that expansion.
Through late December, 14,242 of the roughly 350,000 uninsured Kansans had selected a plan on the marketplace, an estimated 570 of them in Douglas County.
"I've been on two separate conference calls — one with a representative of the American Hospital Association, the second from the Kansas Hospital Association — really talking about our displeasure of having to continue to absorb these decreased reimbursements without the exchange of newly insured patients," Meyer said at the hospital's Board of Trustees meeting. "I think that we held up our end of the bargain and the other end of the bargain was not upheld."
In other news from Wednesday's board meeting, Meyer noted that LMH's inpatient numbers in 2013 appear to have remained steady from the year before, even though much of the industry has seen a decline.
He also pointed out that the children's unit at LMH had only 386 patient days in 2013, equal to 8.4 percent occupancy. "A segregated inpatient pediatric unit is something I think we're going to have to have some dialogue about in the next year," Meyer said. "We've got to take a close look at making sure we're doing the right thing in serving the community."