PICKENS – South Carolina hospitals could see a decline in services and money for new technology if state officials opt out of the Medicaid Expansion.
That message comes from people like Pickens’ Cannon Memorial Hospital CEO Norm Rentz. Rentz, a member of the SC Hospital Association Board of Trustees, has been meeting with business, political and healthcare officials, soliciting support for accepting the Medicaid Expansion opportunities and challenges under the Affordable Care Act.
Medicaid Expansion is one piece of the ACA that the U.S. Supreme Court says should be optional for states. S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley says she opposes the measure. The S.C. House of Representative last Tuesday voted against accepting the option.
Rentz argues that rejecting Medicaid Expansion “leaves a lot of money on the table.”
If it accepts the expansion plan, South Carolina will get an estimated $4.1 billion from federal coffers to fund the expansion over the next three years. For those first three years, the state would not be required to share in the expense of health care but would pay only for the administration of the funds.
By 2020, South Carolina will be expected to pay 10 percent of the cost of medical care for those covered by Medicaid.
Hospital Association estimates place that number at $171 million to match federal funds of $1.84 billion statewide.
Others in the discussion place the 2020 outlay for South Carolina’s 10 percent portion at $600 million to more than $1 billion.
Rentz says that regardless of the state’s acceptance or rejection of the expansion funds, hospitals will see fewer dollars reimbursed from Medicaid for each service provided. Part of the strategy of the ACA is to reduce the cost per service and increase the volume of services provided by giving more people access to health care.
Cannon Hospital will also lose at least an estimated $2.7 million in Medicare during 2014 to 2020. Medicare funds are for retirees. Medicaid funding is for indigent and disabled people.
Having the Medicaid expansion funds would overcome the Medicare losses, Rentz said. Lack of the Medicaid expansion means that he has to look for ways to save money.
In meetings with other health care officials across the state on this matter, Rentz says the range of discussion about where to take the cuts goes from reduced staffing to reduction of ability to buy new technology.