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Impact of Affordable Care Act on Hospitals

Updated: Friday, September 6 2013, 05:20 PM CDT

Every week there is a new delay, and it's like a moving target. That's how the Illinois Hospital Association describes the Affordable Care Act.

"I really don't know anyone really understands the ramifications of all of this," Chester Wynn, the C.E.O. of Passavant Area Hospital, said.

Despite many unknowns, hospitals are anticipating some changes once the Affordable Care Act fully kicks in next year. Ron McNeil is the Dean of the College of Business at UIS. He says hospitals will face penalties if they don't perform at a different levels in terms of outcome measures that are positive.

"Less infections," McNeil said. "Less returns to the hospital. A whole series of things there. The penalty for not compiling can be up to 6 percent. That's a lot of money."

McNeil also points to not-for-profit hospitals having to do a new community-based benefit plan for tax purposes and a medical device tax. Here's what others are saying about the impact of of the law.

The Illinois Hospital Association says:

"If you get Medicaid and/or insurance, you'll go to the doctor earlier and avoid higher costs of treatment and being hospitalized later on."

But, they also say longer wait times is a real possibility.

"There will be a sudden influx of people with coverage coming into the system. Who will be able to see these patients?"

The Hospital Sisters Health System, based in Springfield, says they paid out more than $40 million last year in free charity care, across their system.

They tell us:

"There are reduced reimbursements for hospitals from the Medicare Program, but we can survive the cutbacks because people will have insurance."

"I was talking to a gentleman this morning who got a new knee, who said, 'I came in now because I didn't know if Obamacare was going to cause me to be rationed. Whether or not I was going to have to get in line next year or not for a new knee,'" Wynn said.

"We know there is a lot of confusion and you hear hyperbole on both sides," McNeil said. "It's going to save us lots of money. It's going to bankrupt the U.S."

October 1 is the roll out for enrollment on the health insurance exchanges, with coverage to start January 1.

Some states are reporting the possibility of a 10 percent cut in hospital jobs, because of the new healthcare law. We checked locally and no hospital we spoke with anticipates layoffs or reduction of staffing due to the Affordable Care Act.

Story by NewsChannel20.

Impact of Affordable Care Act on Hospitals

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