A recent study has shown a 5.6% increase in ER visits. The study by the Colorado Hospital Association included 450 hospitals in 25 states and demonstrated the increase is specifically due to the expansion in Medicaid. Moreover, the increase was three times higher than for hospitals in states that did not expand Medicaid. Additionally, the study implies that the newly insured Medicaid patients are sicker.
The Obama administration’s response? They claim they will educate these patients on how to obtain the right care, at the right place and time. I wouldn’t hold your breath on that.
Healthcare coverage was expanded and indeed that was a good thing for at least now those sick patients are going in to receive medical care. The problem is of course that the hospitals will have to figure out how to survive on Medicaid payments. Perhaps a time will come years down the road where patients will seek more preventative care via their primary care physician. In the meantime, however, hospitals are going to need to retool their operations and take a very hard look at their budgeting processes going forward.
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