The U.S. Supreme Court's decision on Thursday to uphold President Obama's health insurance mandate will expand coverage to many uninsured Americans, but its effect on area hospitals remains unclear.
Len LaBella, president of Verdugo Hills Hospital, is hopeful the legislation will decrease financial stress on hospitals by redirecting formerly uninsured patients from emergency rooms to primary care physicians.
“Hospital ERs serve as the physician's office for many of the uninsured. This is not the most efficient [practice], both in economic and clinical terms,” LaBella stated in an email. “I know there are many aspects to healthcare reform … but overall, in my opinion, the benefits will in the end outweigh the negatives.”
But hospitals still face significant funding challenges that the Affordable Care Act won't alleviate, said Jane Haderlein, a senior vice president at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena.
Serving fewer uninsured patients may help in the long run, but reimbursement rates for treatment costs that exceed insurance policy limits aren't expected to go up, Haderlein said.