Baptist Health Systems official discusses health reform law with Rotarians
by Daniel Gaddy
Nov 28, 2012 | 2114 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ross Mitchell, VP for government affairs for Baptist Health Systems, speaks to members of the Jasper Rotary Club on Tuesday at Bevill State Community College.  – Photo by: Daniel Gaddy.
Ross Mitchell, VP for government affairs for Baptist Health Systems, speaks to members of the Jasper Rotary Club on Tuesday at Bevill State Community College. – Photo by: Daniel Gaddy.
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Members of the Rotary Club of Jasper heard a presentation detailing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, by a representative from Baptist Health Systems.

Ross Mitchell, vice president for government affairs for BHS, said the legislation will affect practically every citizen in America.

Mitchell said the new law has created thousands of pages of regulation and about 200 new agencies and departments. He said healthcare providers must adhere to those regulations with little additional funding.

Despite the new regulations on hospitals and clinics, Mitchell said Obamacare is “really more about health insurance reform than health reform.”

The ACA’s provisions to the health insurance industry include the following: the elimination of pre-existing conditions as a disqualifier for insurance; the ability for parents to keep their children on their insurance plan until they turn 26; the leveling of rates for the premiums of elderly patients (making them equal to younger patients); the removal of lifetime and annual caps to insurance coverage; and the establishment of minimum benefits offered in health insurance exchanges (marketplaces where the uninsured can pool together and shop plans).

Mitchell compared the health insurance exchanges to websites like hotels.com or kayak.com.

“You go in and pick the one that best suits your needs,” he said.

According to Mitchell, the changes in health insurance standards will be paid for by cutting reimbursements to healthcare providers, taxes on insurers and vendors, taxes on individuals and penalties for non-compliance.

As an example of the kind of cuts in reimbursement, Mitchell pointed to the funds given to hospitals by Medicare for providing care to uninsured patients. The ACA significantly reduces those payments.

Though the costs of treating the uninsured will go down for many states thanks to the expansion of Medicaid, Alabama leaders have refused the expansion.

“So, part of that formula is now out of whack,” he said.

Some of the changes for health care providers include compensation based on outcomes or performance, Mitchell said. For example, hospitals that rank above the 50th percentile in national benchmarks will be paid bonuses. On the other hand, Medicare will not reimburse providers for costs associated with hospital-borne infections.

Mitchell said hospital officials throughout the country remain concerned about the unintended consequences of thousands of pages of regulations created by the ACA. As an example, he pointed to how much estimates of the cost of Obamacare differ.

“When there’s that level of uncertainty ... there’s a lot we don’t know,” he said.