Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown said in his weekly conference call with reporters that if Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act without replacing it, it would set up a “lose, lose, lose” situation, according to conversations he’s had with many hospital administrators, especially smaller rural hospitals.
Since hospitals are typically among the largest employers in any community, repealing the ACA without replacing until later, as congressional Republicans are on course to do, would lead administrators to consider shedding employees as they seek to keep their finances in order.
“I don’t know what they’re talking about, and they don’t know what they’re talking about,” Sen. Brown said on a call about talk by Republican plans to repeal the ACA. Dr. Thomas Gilson, Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner, joined Brown on the call to speak about a new report that details the impact of repeal on addiction and substance abuse services in Ohio.
“Just to be clear, in the last month of 2016, Congress voted to give $1.1 billion to states over the next two years to treat this epidemic, and in just the second week of 2017, they are voting to take $5.5 billion away over just one year,” said Brown in prepared remarks.“That’s taking one step forward and five steps back.”
While larger hospitals have resources that can delay the impact of repealing President Barack Obama’s signature legacy program, rural hospitals will be hit harder and quicker. Kaiser Health Foundation reports that more than 70 rural hospitals across the nation have closed in the last six years, while another 700 operate on very shaky financial grounds. Sen. Brown declined to comment on what his message would be to residents of Ohio’s rural counties, who mostly voted for Donald Trump.
In his first press conference since last July, President-elect Trump said a bill that both repeals and replaces the ACA, or Obamacare as its better known, will be ready to go once the nominee for Health and Human Services, Georgia Congressman Tom Price, is sworn-in. Mr. Trump said today that his program will be doing Democrats a big favor since they are responsible for the ACA, which he again labeled a big disaster.
Sen. Brown’s great concern is for the 900,000 Ohioans who will lose their healthcare coverage when Trump and allied Republicans on Capitol Hill deliver their promise to end the national healthcare program that has now brought down the number of uninsured Americans to just 10.9 percent, the lowest in nine years, KHF reports.
The report Brown and Gilson referred to today was produced by the Harvard Medical School and New York University. It details the devastating impact the repeal would have on Ohioans who are struggling with addiction.
- More than 220,000 Ohioans with addiction or mental health disorders now have coverage under the Affordable Care Act – 151,257 through the Medicaid expansion and 69,225 under private insurance purchased through the marketplace. Repeal would kick those people off of their insurance, potentially to disrupting treatment services for hundreds of thousands of Ohioans as they are fighting for their lives.
- Nationwide, 1.3 million Americans currently receiving treatment for substance abuse or mental health disorders would be kicked off of their coverage under repeal. And states would lose $5.5 billion in federal dollars each year that go toward treating these Americans through the Medicaid expansion or the marketplaces.
- In Ohio, Medicaid supports nearly 50 percent of the state’s medication-assisted treatment with buprenorphine. Repeal would jeopardize this funding, leaving state and local governments and taxpayers to pick up the costs.
Sen. Brown’s answer to what has grabbed his attention so far regarding hearings on Mr. Trump’s cabinet nominees, was Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions’ inability to recall whether he ever said “Lock her up,” the popular chant Trump supporters engaged in at his rallies that related to the email problems suffered by Hillary Clinton throughout last year’s campaign for the White House.
Ohio’s senior senator, who will be up for reelection in two years, said he’s disappointed with Trump’s nominees and just how far out of the American mainstream they are.