Hospitals: Act no big deal
10/15/2013 - The Dominion Post. By Alex Lang.
MORGANTOWN - Officials from Morgantown area hospitals say they have yet to feel significant effects from the Affordable Care Act, though WVU Hospitals warned it is looking at a net loss of $2 million due to a change in federal funding.
“There is no impact yet, at all,” said Bruce McClymonds, president and CEO of WVU Hospitals.
The first part of the act, the marketplace for health insurance providers, recently opened. Other parts of the act are set to rollout in the coming months and years.
The only difference at WVU Hospitals? Some staff have been trained on how to use the marketplace so they can educate patients, McClymonds said.
WVU Hospitals won’t start seeing a significant impact until the start of the new year, Mc-Clymonds said, when WVU looks at a $2 million decrease in federal funding.
The organization used to receive federal dollars for treating uninsured patients. Those funds were eliminated under the act. The government made it up to organizations by expanding Medicaid coverage so more patients could receive insurance.
WVU Hospitals officials had long urged Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to opt into the Medicaid expansion, which he did.
While it looks like a net loss, McClymonds said it is still early in the process.
“It’s all a bit of a guess,” he said.
The loss will have no impact at WVU Hospitals, he said. There is enough money to cover the decrease without having to eliminate programs or services. But, the loss is expected to increase over time, McClymonds said.
At Monongalia General Hospital, President and CEO Darryl Duncan said, for now, the bill doesn’t affect the hospital.
Highmark is the only West Virginia company participating in the health insurance marketplace. There are 120,000 people expect to enroll in the next three years, Duncan said. Mon General is probably already caring for those people as they are uninsured, but now they will have insurance.
Part of the impact at Mon General will be felt because they are also an employer, Duncan said. One thing they’ve done is hire a health coach to provide information to employees about how to live a healthier lifestyle. The hope is that by providing information, they can help some employees change their habits and prevent visits to the doctor or emergency room.
Duncan said they hope the health coach concept can serve as a model for other businesses to show them what Mon General has done to address some issues.