Obamacare Is Already Providing A Big Boost To Publicly Traded Hospitals

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In yet another boost to the health care law, some publicly traded hospitals are claiming that provisions in the Affordable Care Act are already increasing their bottom lines.

During a call with investors on Wednesday, Community Health Systems CFO Larry Cash claimed that the company has already seen a decrease in self-pay admissions in the states that have expanded their Medicaid programs and predicted that the law would lower those kind of admissions from 8 percent to 4 percent over a three-year period. The CEOs of LifePoint Hospitals and HCA reported similar experiences: in states that expanded their Medicaid programs, Medicaid admissions grew, while the number of uninsured admissions declined at faster rates than in states that have yet to comply with the Medicaid provisions of the health care law.

“So far and as expected, the new health care law has been a net positive for LifePoint with respect to Medicaid expansion,” CEO Bill Carpenter said during the call. “In the seven states where we operate that have expanded coverage, we saw increasing Medicaid and decreasing self-pay volumes. Increases in Medicaid membership and health insurance exchange participation contributed measurably to our results in the quarter.”

Hospitals around the country have lobbied state legislatures to expand their Medicaid programs, arguing that the influx in federal dollars would serve a lifeline to keep struggling rural and community hospitals afloat. A growing number of publicly traded hospitals have been forced to either close or scale back their services, causing patients to travel many miles to access care and creating “delays that can result in lethal consequences,” Bloomberg reported.

Since enrollment began in October, 4.8 million people have signed up for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), but 24 states have yet to expand their programs.