CHA Opposes the Cassidy-Graham-Heller-Johnson Bill

On behalf of more than 100 member hospitals and health systems across the state of Colorado, the Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) urges legislators to oppose the Cassidy-Graham-Heller-Johnson bill, as it will have a significant and harmful impact on all Coloradans as well as Colorado hospitals and the communities they serve. Because Colorado opted to expand Medicaid under the ACA, the magnitude of cuts under this legislation will be of historic proportions. Moreover, CHA is gravely concerned that initial losses will continue to grow in future years as the federal health care funding for low-income Americans continues to decrease.

Although there isn’t an official CBO score of the bill yet, some have speculated that it could cut $700 billion in federal funding for Medicaid. This level of reduction will be devastating to many Colorado hospitals – particularly those in rural areas – but, of equal concern is that it will negatively impact hospitals across the state and disrupt their ability to provide care for vulnerable Coloradans.

It is of great concern that the in-depth, more comprehensive CBO scoring of the bill may not be available in time for the vote to be held before the end of the month. Without knowing the detailed numbers of how many of your constituents could gain/lose coverage under this plan, the Association doesn’t support a vote moving forward. To vote on a bill of this magnitude without full information is ill advised at best.

There are a number of other elements in the bill that are of concern to our member hospitals – including the removal of key consumer protections, the initial loss of significant funding in the block grant structure followed by its complete elimination after just a decade and a low-level of accountability for state programs that will be forced to take on the major share of the health care system.

CHA has long been focused on preserving coverage and access to care in Colorado. The elements in this bill will likely have a detrimental impact on both coverage and access to care.

CHA has also worked diligently to create and subsequently protect our state’s Hospital Provider Fee, which improved Medicaid payments (although, despite that improvement, hospitals receive only $.74/$1 of care provided). The bipartisan bill that passed the Colorado General Assembly in May avoided the closure of several Colorado rural hospitals that – absent the ACA and the Colorado provider fee – would certainly have ceased to operate. Colorado hospitals and the communities they serve – especially those in rural parts of the state that provide care to a large proportion of Medicaid patients – depend on that funding for their very survival.

CHA member hospitals and health systems strongly encourage Congress to engage in serious and sincere bipartisan efforts to work across the aisle to create a plan that will improve our nation’s health care system. It is clear that many changes and refinements are needed for the ACA – and it is likely that Congressional colleagues work together with that type of approach, the result will be a better and more fiscally sound ACA that serves the needs of all Americans.