Hospitals: GOP may create 'an unprecedented public health crisis'

Empty hospital emergency room. (Stock photo by  DreamPictures/Getty Images)
Empty hospital emergency room.
Hospitals are not known for being especially political or ideological. Everyone gets sick; everyone occasionally has a medical emergency; and so everyone has a vested interest in making sure hospitals are stable and secure facilities.And with that in mind, when American hospitals start to panic in response to Republican threats, the public ought to take note. The Washington Post reported yesterday:

The nation's hospital industry warned President-elect Trump and congressional leaders on Tuesday that repealing the Affordable Care Act could cost hospitals $165 billion by the middle of the next decade and trigger "an unprecedented public health crisis."The two main trade groups for U.S. hospitals dispatched a letter to the incoming president and Capitol Hill's top four leaders, saying that the government should help hospitals avoid massive financial losses if the law is rescinded in a way that causes a surge of uninsured patients.

The dire warning was issued alongside this study (pdf) from the AHA and the Federation of American Hospitals, detailing the severe financial consequences for the industry if the nation's current system unravels as a result of the Republican agenda.Joann Anderson, the president and CEO of Southeastern Health in Lumberton, North Carolina, told reporters yesterday that hospitals face dangerous and systemic disruptions from the GOP's plans. "A repeal-and-replace initiative is frightening," Anderson said. "To think about going through another dramatic, sudden, rapid change for an organization that teeters on being able to stay alive and provide services is gut-wrenching."I'm curious about how easily warnings such as these can be dismissed as trivial. In recent years, Republicans and their allies have reflexively ignored related warnings about the repeal crusade by dismissing the ideologies of the messengers: reports from universities are ignored because scholars are liberals; reports from news organizations are ignored because journalists are liberals; reports based on arithmetic are ignored because math is liberal, and so on.But what about hospitals? Does the right see major medical institutions as political enemies whose warnings don't matter?As it turns out, hospitals weren't the only stakeholders speaking up yesterday. The New York Times reported that insurers have some concerns, too.

The nation's health insurers, resigned to the idea that Republicans will repeal the Affordable Care Act, on Tuesday publicly outlined for the first time what the industry wants to stay in the state marketplaces, which have provided millions of Americans with insurance under the law.The insurers, some which have already started leaving the marketplaces because they are losing money, say they need a clear commitment from the Trump administration and congressional leaders that the government will continue offsetting some costs for low-income people. They also want to keep in place rules that encourage young and healthy people to sign up, which the insurers say are crucial to a stable market for individual buyers.

The list actually kept going. Mother Jones' Kevin Drum joked, accurately, "[T]he insurance industry says it's OK with repealing Obamacare, but we should maintain the pre-existing conditions ban, the individual mandate, the subsidies for low-income families, and the Medicaid expansion. Needless to say, that is Obamacare."For their part, Republicans continue to move forward with their repeal plans, indifferent to the consequences. Sometimes, when ignorant children play with matches, they're not the only ones who get burned.