Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans, part of Ascension, has sought to be a voice for our patients by calling on Congress to pass health care legislation that meets three simple principles: preserve the safety net for those most vulnerable; strengthen and stabilize the individual market; and continue the work to transform healthcare to a system based on value, not volume.
Over the last several months, Ascension leaders and I have encouraged Congress to craft legislation that achieves these principles. Unfortunately, the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 released by the Senate falls short of achieving these goals.
That said, I commend the Senate for some things it did well to improve on the House of Representatives’ proposal and in some cases current law, such as continuing to ensure that individuals with pre-existing conditions are not charged more for healthcare coverage.
Unfortunately, BCRA fails to meet our reform goals for legislation because it would result in significant cuts to Medicaid by capping and cutting Medicaid at a rate far below the actual cost growth, putting the care of millions of people at risk. Louisiana, specifically, would lose $14.2 billion in Medicaid funding over the next decade.
BCRA also falls short of achieving market stabilization goals. While it provides premium tax credits for purchasing coverage, they are not enough to purchase adequate coverage, which may lead to underinsured Americans delaying needed care because of higher out-of-pocket costs. The Senate has diagnosed significant problems in the individual market but is prescribing the wrong medicine to address them.
Thanks to Medicaid expansion in Louisiana, we are providing more effective and efficient healthcare to all in our state. Coverage expansion has increased access to important health services for nearly 400,500 Louisianans. According to the Louisiana Department of Health, expansion has helped to provide more than 100,000 primary care visits, 15,000 mammograms and care for 2,600 people newly diagnosed with diabetes. The gains made in such a short time are impressive. BCRA would have devastating effects on so many in our state who may be forced off Medicaid.
Thankfully, the Senate bill is a work in progress. The Senate should go back to the drawing board to address the crucial issues facing healthcare by working with colleagues on each side of the aisle and focusing on the principles above. I encourage them to garner more ideas by reviewing alternative proposals such as the one developed by Senators Cassidy and Collins.
I urge the Senate to develop a viable short and long term proposal that preserves coverage, strengthens and stabilizes the individual market and advances healthcare delivery transformation to improve quality and lower costs. Louisiana can afford no less.
Michael G. Griffin
CEO, Daughters of Charity Services