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How The Affordable Care Act Might Hurt Local Hospitals

Baystate ER SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, moves to get health coverage for over 30 million Americans without it.

Since Massachusetts reformed the healthcare law in 2006, 98 percent of residents are now insured.

The ACA will allow more folks to become eligible for subsidized insurance through the state’s marketplace, the Massachusetts health connector.

Federal funding for state subsidies will increase nearly $5 billion between 2014 and 2020, yet cuts will have to be made elsewhere.

“Where we should be concerned in the country is that 50 percent of the cost of the ACA is being funded through reductions in payments to hospitals, to physicians, to other health care providers, so in the case of Baystate Health, we’re looking at $1 Billion over 10 years,” said Steven Bradley, Vice President of Government Communications, Relations and Public Affairs for Baystate Medical Center.

One-hundred million dollars would have to be cut each year to pay for the cost of this transformation – a burden Bradley thinks is too much for the hospital to bear.

“There’s just no way that any health system in Massachusetts can afford to take cuts in reimbursements in that magnitude without having to change the way that we deliver service, or, I think, you know, a likelihood to eliminate some services that we’re providing, so that’s the challenge,” Bradley Noted.

Some of those services could include community health centers, behavioral health services, VA, and hospice services, which are already losing millions of dollars a year.

It’s why Bradley is heading to Boston to speak with Mass. Secretary of Health and Human services John Polanowicz about reductions in those Medicare payments

Even with the cuts, Bradley still thinks the ACA is a good idea, facing controversy similar to Social Security when that was first rolled out.

The Department of Public Health is also using ACA grants to improve medical services for children, reduce childhood obesity, and discourage tobacco use.

Open enrollment for the health insurance marketplace begins next Tuesday.

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