Health Law’s Ripple Effects On Hospitals, Schools, Uninsured
The Kansas City Star reports that some uninsured patients fall through the cracks as hospitals cut back on charity care to persuade people to sign up for coverage. Some schools, meanwhile, are turning to private substitutes to avoid having to pay for their health coverage next year. In Colorado, Denver Health is back in the black, partly due to a dramatic decrease in uninsured patients.
Kansas City Star: Patients Fall Through Cracks As Hospitals Cut Back Charity Care
Stephen Maxwell had struggled for years with a bad back, but what he felt in December was something new. A pop, pop, pop in his spine left Maxwell, 45, in constant, inescapable pain that’s made it impossible for him to work or even get a full night’s sleep. In January, Truman Medical Center, the hospital he has relied on for care, rolled back its financial assistance program. Truman used to provide free or discounted care for uninsured people making up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level — $46,680 for an individual. Now, only those making less than 200 percent qualify for the help. The change was intended to motivate people to sign up for health insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act. Maxwell didn’t get the message in time (Bavley, 9/17).
Kansas City Star: Kansas Schools Turn To Private Substitutes To Avoid Providing Health Insurance
Budget concerns and the advent of new health insurance requirements next year have caused some of the bigger school districts in the Kansas City area to rethink one of their largest logistical problems — the hiring of substitute teachers. The result: privatization. Substitutes at Lee’s Summit, Hickman Mills, Kansas City and North Kansas City schools — who had been hired and paid by public school districts in the past — are now employed by Kelly Educational Staffing, an arm of one of the country’s largest temporary employment agencies. The change, which has happened in just the past two years, is part of a nationwide trend as districts look at how to keep expenses low and prepare for the new federal health insurance law known as the Affordable Care Act. District officials say the change allows them to find more high-quality substitutes — especially long-term ones — without incurring the extra costs of health insurance that will be required next year (Hammill, 9/17).
Health News Colorado: Denver Health Regains Financial Footing
Denver Health is back in the black after a tough year in 2013. The return to financial health is a result of a boost in payments from the City of Denver to the safety net health system, reforms under the Affordable Care Act and aggressive job cuts last year — some of which have been restored this year. Since the beginning of 2014, Denver Health has seen a dramatic conversion of patients who were once uninsured and now have health coverage through Medicaid, the government health insurance program for low-income people and the disabled. Last year, more than one of every four Denver Health patients was uninsured. That percentage has shrunk from 27 percent in 2013 to about 14 percent this year. At the same time, about half of Denver Health’s patients now have Medicaid, up from 36 percent last year (Kerwin McCrimmon, 9/17).