EDITORIAL | Deep cuts to Medicaid are a bad medicine for hospitals

Proposed cuts to Medicaid under the U.S. Senate’s health care bill are the very definition of an unfunded mandate.

By some estimates, the proposal would cut the federal program by hundreds of billions of dollars. That might seem like a great idea on its face. Who doesn’t want to cut the federal budget and save taxpayer dollars?

The problem is that the proposal is just a gigantic passing of the proverbial buck — or perhaps bill. Hospitals will still have to provide life-saving and other medical services to people who aren’t able to pay their bills. Deep cuts to Medicaid means that hospitals, such as WhidbeyHealth, may not be reimbursed for many of those services.

In other words, the buck gets passed on to hospitals, which could be calamitous. A total of 79 rural hospitals across the nation have already closed in recent years and many others are struggling to survive.

The impact to WhidbeyHealth could be significant. Last year, the public hospital was left with $1.9 million in uncompensated care. That amount could skyrocket if Medicaid funding is cut.

And who really ends up paying those bills? The community.

Created in the 1960s, Medicaid is a health-care program for people with limited resources. It’s largely funded by the federal government and administered by the state. Most Medicaid enrollees are children and their parents; about 65 percent come from working families, according to Kaiser Health News.

About three-quarters of Medicaid funding goes to the elderly and disabled — much of that to pay nursing home bills.

Medicaid is run pretty efficiently. Administrative costs are less than 7 percent, or half the average rate of the private sector.

Washington is one of 32 states that chose Medicaid expansion, leading to 600,000 more low-income residents becoming insured. Many of those people had used emergency rooms for routine visits. Signing people up with the expanded Medicaid plan saves money through preventive care.

Nonetheless, changes to Obamacare and Medicaid are necessary. Health care costs have to be reined in.

Leaving providers with the bill is not the answer.

More in Opinion

Cartoon for Sept. 19, 2018

Cartoon for Sept. 19, 2018… Continue reading

Letter:Shout out to local restaurants for being very child-friendly

Editor, I wanted to take a moment to thank all the restaurants… Continue reading

Letter:A story of ‘adventure’ with WhidbeyHeath referral

Editor, This may amuse other Whidbey residents who’ve dealt with WhidbeyHealth. A… Continue reading

Cartoon for Sept. 15, 2018

Cartoon for Sept. 15, 2018… Continue reading

Letter: Drunk driving laws in state need to be reviewed, improved

Editor, I don’t write letters normally, and here I am with the… Continue reading

Letter: Contrast between Trump, Obama could not be any greater

Editor, During the first weekend of September we witnessed a memorial service… Continue reading

The Petri Dish: Paid postage on ballots failed to move the needle

Even with the postage paid, thousands of Washington voters didn’t get their… Continue reading

Cartoon for Sept. 12, 2018

Cartoon for Sept. 12, 2018… Continue reading

Letter: Reasons to elect Janet St. Clair as commissioner

Editor, I’m voting for Janet St. Clair for Island County commissioner 3.… Continue reading

Most Read