Illinois hospital group warns against latest healthcare bill

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CHICAGO – Illinois officials added their voices to alarms being sounded over the hit many states would take under the latest Republican effort to undo the Affordable Care Act.

An analysis indicates Illinois would lose $8 billion or 5 % from 2020-2026; $18 billion or 11% from 2020-2027; and $153 billion or 34 % from 2020-2036.

Illinois is among 34 states that would lose federal funding if the Graham-Cassidy becomes law, according to a study conducted by Avalere Health, a Washington-based health-policy consulting firm.

The study projects the proposed Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson legislation that would take effect in 2020 would result in $215 billion of cuts nationally to Medicaid and private insurance subsidies by 2026. States that did not expend Medicaid under the ACA would benefit. A Senate vote could come next week but it's unclear whether it can pass, and its prospects dimmed Friday when Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, announced opposition.

Illinois did expand Medicaid and it’s resulted in reduced uncompensated care costs for hospitals and helped benefit Cook County’s balance sheet.

“The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill is even more damaging than the previous Senate and House repeal proposals,” A.J. Wilhelmi, president of the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, said in a statement.

“Not only will it result in the loss of healthcare coverage for up to one million Illinoisans, but it will erode key protections for patients and consumers and will cut federal healthcare resources to Illinois by more than $150 Billion,” he added.

Illinois cannot absorb additional financial burdens that would be imposed on the state and would be forced to reduce eligibility, covered services, and payments to providers, the association added.

Cook County officials also said they were dismayed by the proposal and its potential impact although it could not put a precise dollar amount on the potential losses to its healthcare system.

“The latest effort by Congressional Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Graham-Cassidy bill, would deliver a catastrophic blow to our health system, our vulnerable patients and our mission,” the county said in a statement.

Through Cook County’s managed Medicaid program, CountyCare, the county provides services for 140,000 of those individuals due to the ACA expansion.

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