By: Brian Sikma
President Barack Obama’s signature accomplishment, the Patient Provider and Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare, has once again struck Wisconsin healthcare providers hard. A special deal that changed a Medicare reimbursement formula for hospitals is expected to take $9.4 million away from Wisconsin hospitals. The change to Medicare’s hospital wage index system came as part of an apparent deal between those pushing for ObamaCare’s passage, and some lawmakers seeking special deals for their states.
Massachusetts is the state that has so far benefited the most under the change. Hospitals there gain roughly $256 million in extra money this year while Wisconsin hospitals lose money.
Under the formula change, in order for a few states like Massachusetts to get more money from the federal government, the government must cut some Medicare reimbursements to hospitals in other states.
Already the impact of ObamaCare on Wisconsin has been less than what the President promised. Just before the November election, experts found that ObamaCare will actually raise health insurance premiums in Wisconsin an average of 30%, but up to 41% of Wisconsin health insurance consumers could see a more than 50% jump in their premium costs.
A Wisconsin State Journal article on this new cost of ObamaCare to Wisconsin failed to clearly identify the Obama-backed reform as the culprit.
In a press release drawing attention to the new Medicare inequities, Steve Brenton of the Wisconsin Hospital Association called the new situation “a calculated approach to manipulate arcane rules and regulations.”
Ironically, according to U.S. Senator Tom Coburn’s office, even the Obama Administrations Department of Health and Human Services had to admit in comments entered into the Federal Register that the change is a “manipulation.”
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, CMS, the federal government office charged with administering the entitlement programs, the hospital wage index is an important tool used to determine reimbursement amounts for hospitals. This special manipulation of the index has been nicknamed the “Bay State Boondoggle” because it negatively impacts a majority of states while benefiting a few states like Massachusetts.