Inequitable Funding Challenges Local Healthcare

Based upon the current payment structure to operate and maintain healthcare centers, the federal government has created a structural deficit that endangers the future financial stability of our healthcare delivery system. Healthcare centers negotiate payments with private insurance, receive nominal pay for Medicare patients, and obtain even less pay for Medicaid patients.

Based on the COVID19 CARES Act legislation, the payment schedule is calculated on the Medicare scale; however, numerous patients are enrolled under the Medicaid program which both receives and pays less for services than Medicare.  Neither program covers payments for uninsured patients, yet federal law requires their treatment. The consequence is that health centers nationwide are losing money, which undermines their longer-term financial stability.

Meanwhile, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, with the support of Republicans in the legislature, has joined in a lawsuit pending before the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act, including coverage for pre-existing conditions and expansion of Medicaid in Arizona. This week, Republicans in our legislature pushed through a bill to require insurers to offer coverage for pre-existing conditions – but they left the “affordable” part out of that requirement. Republicans’ vision for healthcare is to push us backward at a time when our hospitals and care centers are financially unstable and our citizens are suffering in a pandemic.

Fortunately, Flagstaff Medical Center and Tuba City Hospital have received some emergency funding under the C.A.R.E.S Act. Local healthcare centers remain a major concern, nonetheless, especially those on Native lands where funding was inexplicably delayed. Local centers are the first responders to emerging health concerns and vital to preventing future epidemics.

We need elected officials who will systematically resolve inequities and inefficiencies in our health system. Please educate yourself, contact your representatives, and vote for informed, responsible leaders.

Published by Ann Heitland

Ann Heitland is a writer, living in Flagstaff, AZ. She's also a golfer, ex-lawyer, retired real estate broker, and active Democrat.