Lost in the drama swirling around the technical snafus that have plagued the Affordable Care Act's online marketplace, a bigger problem threatens the already-fragile safety net which holds many of the nation's most vulnerable populations. A critical subsidy from the federal government, which The New York Times says is "little known outside health policy circles but critical to hospitals' survival" is set to be sharply reduced under the Affordable Care Act.
The subsidy helps supplement the cost of care for those men, women and children who show up at the nation's emergency rooms without any insurance coverage. But in what The Times calls "a perverse twist, many poor individuals will be doubly unlucky." The subsidy, created in 1980, was designed to assist hospitals which have a number of patients who are uninsured or have government assistance, but who are still unable to pay very much.
The Affordable Care Act was designed for many of the uninsured poor to be supported by expansion of Medicaid, but a number of states—including Idaho—have still refused to broaden their Medicaid programs.
“We were so thrilled when the [Affordable Care Act] passed, but it has backfired,” an Atlanta hospital spokeswoman told The Times.