While a vote on the Senate’s health care bill – the Better Care Reconciliation Act – has been delayed, the fight to protect patients and communities is far from over. Analyses this week from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the American Hospital Association show that the bill would significantly impair the way Maryland’s hospitals care for their patients and communities, jeopardizing the All-Payer Model and the seismic care delivery transformation it has cultivated.
According to AHA’s state-by-state analysis, an estimated 215,000 Marylanders would lose coverage in 2018, increasing to more than 256,000 by 2026. The coverage losses alone are deeply concerning, but they also represent a very real threat to the viability of the All-Payer Model.
The All-Payer Model encourages hospitals to direct patients to the right care, at the right time, in the right setting: doctor’s offices, pharmacies, home health, nursing homes and more. But without coverage to access these services, more Marylanders will turn to hospital emergency departments – health care’s highest-cost setting – for care. The increased costs and increased hospital utilization would make it difficult if not impossible to meet the stringent metrics of the All-Payer Model.
This week, The Baltimore Sun published a joint op-ed from MHA and AARP that details our concerns with the Senate bill. At its core, the bill would make Maryland’s health care system less secure and less affordable, and it would foist a financial burden on every Marylander as the state struggles with reduced Medicaid funding and the costs of caring for hundreds of thousands more uninsured. The good news is that because Senate leaders don’t have the votes to pass it, a vote on that bill has been delayed until after the July 4 recess. Meanwhile, hospitals and others across the country are gearing up to ensure that the vote tallies don’t add up for a bill that would hurt so many people.
There are many complex politics at play as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tries to thread the needle to gain support among the conservative and moderate wings of his party. For our part, MHA is supporting AHA’s strategy to advocate with a select group of U.S. senators to fend off this bill – so that the tremendous potential to improve quality, control costs, and make people’s lives better that you have demonstrated over the past four years will not be struck by a bad bill whose purpose seems to be achieving a victory rather than actually doing good.