Saturday, October 07, 2017

34.7 - Outrage of the Week: payments to "safety net" hospitals cut, Children's Health Insurance Program expired, due to Congressional inaction

Outrage of the Week: payments to "safety net" hospitals cut, Children's Health Insurance Program expired, due to Congressional inaction

Now for our other regular feature, this is the Outrage of the Week.

Over the summer and into early fall, the Senate found time to spend weeks in yet another attempt to undo whatever good the Affordable Care Act has done and then after that failed they found weeks more to try again with an even worse bill - the Graham-Cassidy catastrophe - and when that failed they still found time to talk about trying again later.

That, the Senate had time for.

The House found time to pass a bill on October 3 banning abortions after 20 weeks and imposing a five year prison sentence on women who attempt to get abortions after that time and the doctors who would do them.

The bill is based on the lie that 20-week old fetus can feel pain, a lie that keeps circulating even though the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists considers the case to be closed as to whether a fetus can feel pain at that stage in development: Simply put, a fetus at 20 weeks just does not have enough of a brain to perceive pain and won't until about 27 weeks.

More: The bill was passed despite fact that its chances of passing the Senate, where it would have to overcome the 60-vote barrier, are at most negligible.

Even so, that the House had time for.

You know what they didn't have time for?

The Disproportionate Share Hospitals payments, for one thing. They are a part of Medicaid and Medicare which since the 1980s have offset a portion of the uncompensated care hospitals provide to patients every year.
But because of a quirk in the way Obamacare was implemented, those payments were facing $43 billion in cuts over the next few years, cuts set to kick in on October 1.

And safety net hospitals - which care for low-income patients as part of their mission - will, naturally, be hit the hardest: They provide on average eight times more uncompensated care than other hospitals - because again, part of their mission is to care for those who are the least likely to be able to pay.

Congress was supposed to pass an extension of those payments to head off the cuts, which, again, will hit the neediest the hardest. But they were too busy with bullshit to find the time to deal with it. That, they didn't have time for.

CHIP is the Children's Health Insurance Program. It provides matching funds to states for health insurance for families with children, geared to cover uninsured children in families with incomes too low to afford insurance but too high to receive Medicaid.
About 9 million children have health insurance thanks to the program, which is a big part of the reason that the US has - or at least had - almost eliminated the specter of children without health insurance.
It expired on September 30. Because Congress was too busy with bullshit to renew it. That, they didn't have time for.

Now I have to add that because the program piggybacks on Medicaid, this doesn't mean states will run out of money for the program immediately. But 10 states are projected to run out of matching funds by the end of the year and 22 more and Washington, DC will hit that wall by March if Congress does not act very soon.
We'll have to see if they can find the time. In the meantime, this is and will remain an outrage.

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