Medicaid Rollback 'Has the Potential to Cripple Us'

Christopher Cheney, March 20, 2017

The CEO of a community hospital in NH warns of dire consequences if coverage gains achieved through Obamacare are reversed by the American Health Care Act.

Peter Wright
Peter Wright

Before lawmakers in Washington roll back Medicaid expansion under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), they should meet face-to-face with Peter Wright.

Wright is president and CEO of Claremont, NH-based Valley Regional Healthcare, which operates a 25-bed community hospital. "Any negative changes to Medicaid will be just brutal for us. Our financial assistance program has been reduced dramatically since expanded Medicaid and the ACA have gone into effect," Wright told HealthLeaders last week.

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New Hampshire is one of a handful of states that expanded Medicaid through the so-called private option, which allows income-eligible adults to purchase subsidized health coverage on the PPACA insurance exchange. This year, about 50,000 low-income Granite State adults have coverage through Medicaid Expansion.

Claremont is located near the White Mountains in New Hampshire's North Country. The area's views of the high peaks and low per-capita incomes are hallmarks of the community.

Wright says the Medicaid coverage cutbacks proposed in the American Health Care Act (AHCA) wending through Congress would have a devastating impact on Valley Regional and many of its patients.

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"It has the potential to cripple us. Somewhere between 64% and 67% of everything we do in this organization is serving patients on Medicare, Medicaid or financial assistance," he says. "We are already in a fragile state and financially struggling, with no margin or a negative margin."

For the 2016 fiscal year, Valley Regional posted operating revenue at $38.4 million. Operating expenses outstripped revenue by more than $4 million.

Christopher Cheney

Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care​ editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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