The types of financial shocks hospitals currently face illustrate the problems inherent in Democrats’ proposed expansions of government-run health care.
The coronavirus pandemic has inflicted such vast damage on the American economy that one damaged sector has gone relatively unnoticed. Despite incurring a massive influx of new patients, the hospital industry faces what one executive called a “seismic financial shock” from the virus.
The types of shocks hospitals currently face also illustrate the problems inherent in Democrats’ proposed expansions of government-run health care. Likewise, the pay and benefit cuts and furloughs that some hospitals have enacted in response to these financial shocks provide a potential preview of Democrats’ next government takeover of health care.
The federal government has made huge progress in lowering regulatory barriers in order to accelerate access to health care during the coronavirus crisis, including allowing patients to talk with their doctors by telemedicine visits. But one group of particularly vulnerable patients has been left out: Medicare beneficiaries needing access to infused or injected drugs that generally must be administered by clinicians in doctors’ offices or hospitals.
To prepare for a coronavirus surge, initial public-health guidance advised hospitals and medical facilities to shut down for non-emergency care. The motivation was largely to preserve medical resources for those infected with the coronavirus, although another benefit has been to reduce the virus’s contagion to other patients.
Acting on federal advice, 31 states and the District of Columbia restricted non-emergency care at hospitals and surgery centers, including cancer treatments and other potentially life-saving services. Others voluntarily shut down elective services. On the positive side, the chain reaction will accelerate adoption of telehealth, which was vastly underutilized despite its promise to streamline care, reduce wait times, keep sick people out of waiting rooms, and address geographic disparities in access to care. On the negative side, hospital capacity has idled, devastated provider revenue, and led to widespread furloughs.
The administration’s guidelines for “Opening Up America Again” rely heavily on the ability of states to develop a robust COVID-19 testing capacity, and Congress is negotiating adding as much as $25 billion to this week’s funding bill to significantly expand testing.
A dramatic increase in coronavirus testing is needed before people will feel safe to return to work and the marketplace, but an equally dramatic shortage of testing capacity threatens to cripple the recovery.
Ten years ago, in late March 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as ObamaCare, became law.
Everyone loves the icebreaker game “Two Truths and a Lie” where you try to pick which of three statements is false. Can you guess which of the following is NOT true about the ACA?
A. The ACA resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of people with health insurance, mostly by expanding private health insurance.
B. The ACA caused health insurance premiums and deductibles in the individual market to skyrocket.
C. The ACA caused health insurance plans to narrow their networks, in other words, to restrict which hospitals and providers were available to people with ACA coverage.
A. LIE! While the ACA did dramatically increase the number of people with health coverage, it primarily did so by expanding the Medicaid program. A new paper from the Galen Institute makes this abundantly clear. Here are a few facts from the paper:
We need to be smart about how we use public resources to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. Two major crises are facing the country right now: 1) the negative health impact and associated deaths from the virus, and 2) the enormous economic impact of large numbers of businesses and schools shutting down.
Congress needs to wisely allocate public resources to address both and not be distracted by long-held ideological pursuits. Many people are providing advice on how to best help businesses and workers weather the storm. For health care, it is crucial to recognize that this is a public health crisis and not an issue of longer-term health financing or coverage.
State and federal laws and regulations are hindering the private sector’s efforts to help fight the outbreak.
Effectively responding to the coronavirus epidemic requires innovation from private companies, medical professionals, and entrepreneurs. These folks are ready to perform heroic acts, but government rules and red tape are getting in their way. To take one tragic example, it appears that problems at the Centers for Disease Control led to early delays in testing and unreliable tests.
We must untangle this red tape to save lives. Hospitals and medical facilities in hotspots already are overwhelmed with patients, and the demands placed on them will only increase in the coming months. They need to rapidly expand capacity now to avoid being forced to ration care, as we already see happening in Italy, later.