Kentucky hospitals will be hurt by health care reform

Senator Jim Bunning
Senator Jim Bunning

The Kentucky Hospital Association released a disturbing report recently that explains the economic burden of what the new health care bill will be on Kentucky hospitals.

The report is alarming and makes me question how many of our local hospitals will be able to keep their doors open in the coming years.

The recently passed health care bill will cost Kentucky hospitals a total of $1.2 billion over 10 years.

That is a staggering figure which will no doubt cost Kentucky jobs and, more importantly, have ill effects on the overall health care system here in the commonwealth.

The report says that because of Obamacare, Kentucky hospitals will see significant reductions in payments when they treat Medicare patients, along with a large increase in the number of Medicaid enrollees.

As the report points out, under Medicaid the government pays hospitals about 85 percent of the cost of treating Medicaid patients.

Kentucky hospitals play a critical role in the economy of the commonwealth. According to the report by the Kentucky Hospital Association, the 126 hospitals in the commonwealth employ more than 80,000 people and paid $3.52 billion in wages and salaries in 2008.

In smaller communities, the local hospital may be one of the largest employers. I am fearful of what a $1.2 billion cut to Kentucky's hospitals will mean to our communities and the job losses that could ensue. Looking at the facts from the Kentucky Hospital Association, it is no wonder that a recent poll shows over 60 percent of Kentuckians want an outright repeal of Obamacare.

I had many Kentuckians contact me during the course of the debate and one doctor from Union struck a chord with me, saying "...the current bill will lower standards of care, increase the already overwhelming amount of bureaucratic interference with patient care, vastly enlarge our national debt and deter the brightest and best of our society from entering health care professions."

Unfortunately, that prediction is becoming reality.

Twenty states have begun legal proceedings to stop Obamacare from entering into their communities. Unfortunately, Kentucky is not one of them. I hope that those states win in the courts and stop Obamacare for all of us.