February 09, 2017

ICYMI: Seacoast Online Covers Concerns from Hospitals across New Hampshire about the Harmful Consequences of Repealing the Affordable Care Act

ICYMI: Seacoast Online Covers Concerns from Hospitals across New Hampshire about the Harmful Consequences of Repealing the Affordable Care Act


WASHINGTON – Seacoast Online highlighted concerns from hospitals across New Hampshire about the harmful consequences that repealing the Affordable Care would have on the health and well-being of Granite Staters and their ability to provide quality care to patients.


The article highlighted a roundtable hosted by Senators Hassan and Shaheen where Portsmouth Regional Hospital CEO Dean Carucci expressed his concern that the hospital might not be able to move forward with certain plans, including a child and adolescent behavioral health unit, if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.


Michele Merritt, senior vice president of New Futures, noted the harmful impact repeal would have on behavioral health treatment and efforts to combat the substance abuse crisis.


Seacoast Online also mentioned efforts by Senators Hassan and Shaheen to collect stories directly from Granite Staters on how the Affordable Care Act has helped them. Stories can be submitted by emailing healthstories@hassan.senate.gov.


Click here for the full story or see below for excerpts:


The new administration's promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, has many worried, wondering how it will affect their health care.


Obamacare, as the act has become known, has resulted in more citizens than ever having health insurance. While the current administration has indicated that it will replace Obamacare with a different plan, people are watching closely. That includes hospitals across the nation.


Steve Ahnen, president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association, said the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act will have lasting impact on the health care delivery system, on hospitals and on the millions of previously uninsured patients and families who were finally able to obtain the health care coverage they needed, including the tens of thousands of New Hampshire residents who were previously uninsured.


… In a meeting with Dean Carucci, CEO of Portsmouth Regional Hospital, Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan heard his concerns about the repeal of the ACA. They both responded with statements and are also calling for their constituents to let them know how the ACA has helped them and what they fear if the act is repealed. "President Trump and Republican leadership in Congress are recklessly moving forward with repeal of the Affordable Care Act, regardless of the consequences," Shaheen said. "One of the many reasons why I'm advocating for bipartisan cooperation to improve the law, is to avoid disruption to hospitals like Portsmouth Regional that depend on the stability of the law to move forward with infrastructure upgrades."


Hassan agreed and said she is determined to stay on top of the issue.


"Our conversation with Portsmouth Regional Hospital and other health care providers and policy leaders highlighted the real difference that the Affordable Care Act is making in the lives of Granite Staters, and the great harm that efforts to repeal health coverage - including coverage for substance use disorder treatment - for tens of thousands of Granite Staters would have on our state," Hassan said. "I will continue to oppose efforts to repeal the ACA without a replacement while urging my colleagues to work with us to improve upon the current health care system, and I will do everything I can to make sure that Portsmouth Regional Hospital can move forward with their planned behavioral health center for youth and teens, which is an important step forward in strengthening community-based mental health and combating substance abuse."


In a transcript of the meeting between the senators and Carucci, he indicated that at least one program the hospital is considering may not happen, or may require changes if the ACA is repealed.


… [“] we've made investment decisions because of the ACA that I don't know that we would've necessarily made before and we certainly have plans on the table that I don't know that we would continue to pursue without the ACA, and I'll give a few examples. We did expand our behavioral health unit, we added about a 40 percent additional capacity at Portsmouth Regional Hospital. We added 14 brand-new beds at Parkland Medical Center in Derry, New Hampshire. We also opened up an outpatient partial treatment program that the Seacoast did not have in place at any of our organizations that serve that area. And, much like many facilities not just in New Hampshire but around the country, we had closed our designated receiving facility in the late '90s, early 2000s, and made the conscious decisions based on that."


Because of the ACA, Carucci said they decided to reopen the hospital as a designated receiving facility for involuntary patient admissions with a behavioral health diagnosis.


"We all know that the opiate and drug addiction is always - almost always - co-occurring with our behavioral health admission," Carucci said. "So, we decided 18-24 months ago, to seek becoming a designated receiving facility again and have opened that program as of the summer of 2015 to serve the Seacoast further in that respect. And so we stepped back and say 'without the ACA, would we have made those difficult investment decisions knowing how great the need is?' And I'm not convinced that we would have done that. It certainly would have been a topic of discussion because we are a community partner and feel that our mission is to serve those folks in the community that have needs, but the ACA made that decision much easier."


"What we also have on the table right now that we hope to pursue is a child and adolescent unit, which, as you guys have referred to here today, is in great need in the state in New Hampshire. In fact, it is probably one of the greatest needs across the country when you look at behavioral health. Without the ACA, and certainly without the rollback in the cuts that also occur with the repeal, that would be something that I don't see us pursuing.[”]


… Michele Merritt, senior vice president of New Futures, a policy think tank that is non-partisan and operates statewide, said one concern is that people who are now covered may lose health insurance.


"When that happens, you get people who do not seek medical care until their condition is far advanced, or it requires a trip to the emergency room," Merritt said. "Preventative care does not happen. Behavioral health will be another area that might suffer and we know how badly it is needed, and how much impact it has on the addiction problems in the state. New Hampshire just applied for 1115 Medicaid waiver, which would put them on a good five-year plan. What will happen? We do not know but we will be watching carefully."


Merritt said New Futures is opposed to a full repeal of the ACA. She said it hopes to see at least some component stay in whatever plan is implemented, like allowing people under 26 to stay on their parents' health care plan and access for low income residents.


In a joint effort, Shaheen and Hassan are calling for stories from Granite Staters who have been helped by the ACA. Stories can be sent by email to healthstories@hassan.senate.gov.