The Senate version of health care reform passed late last year is the new law of the land, despite no Republican support for one of the most sweeping pieces of legislation to govern health care in America. President Barack Obama Tuesday signed the bill into law after the House passed it Sunday night.
Although Senate Democrats are expected to pass a “fix it” bill already approved by Congress over the weekend, certain provisions of the Affordable Health Care for America Act will remain intact and impact every American in some way.
Among them; insurers will no longer be able to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or charge them more when they write new policies. Everyone who can afford it will be required to buy coverage by 2014, and employers must provide a group plan coverage to workers or be fined, though small businesses will receive tax credits to help defray costs.
Republicans are vowing to repeal the legislation and 10 states filed lawsuits claiming it is unconstitutional. But for now, health care reform is a reality, and insideARM asked members of the accounts receivable management industry and medical financial community how they think the new law will impact their business.
Here is what they had to say.
Adam Holzhauer, president Master Ventures Inc., – a purchaser of medical debt based in San Antonio, Texas:
“In the near term I don’t think there will be much change in the marketplace for what we do. In the long term, yes, there will be some issues to deal with. But we won’t know what those issues are until we see how the bill is interpreted by the regulators and how the regulation is applied…one advantage of the bill is that regulators will be less empathic to consumers who don’t pay their bill. I think it’s going to potentially give recovery people greater leverage. People won’t have some place to complain. If they champion those people (who are complaining) they are admitting that the bill will be ineffective. The issue been taken off the table.”
Tom Gavinski, vice president, Healthcare Division, I.C. System, Inc. With $80 million in revenues, 1,300 employees and four offices, I.C. is one of the largest debt collection agencies in the U.S.:
“I think it’s good in terms of margins…I think we can focus on more collectable accounts and not waste our time on people who outright just can’t pay. Under true self pay, we collect about 5 percent of the accounts on people without insurance, versus 60 percent for people who have insurance. We will see that (insured) portfolio increase and the five percent portfolio decrease…Deductibles and co-pays will continue to rise, but we will see reduced balances and reduced volume because those people that can’t pay and are getting referred to collections will get coverage of some type.”
Gavinski also expects hospitals to outsource more of their self-pay accounts.
“Hospital are good at billing insurers, they are not so good at billing the patient.”
Adam Peterman, director of government affairs for ACA International, the leading trade association for debt collectors:
“While ACA is pleased Congress chose not to include provisions it was considering that would have specifically hurt the credit and collection industry, there’s no question that employers and employees alike will share the pain of costly rate increases and coverage mandates."
Richard L. Clarke, CEO of the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), the nation’s leading membership organization for healthcare financial management executives and leaders:
“The healthcare reform bill President Obama signed Tuesday represents the broadest, most sweeping health-related legislation the industry has seen in decades. There are several questions all of us have related to the impact of this historic legislation. Clearly, understanding the key features of the reform legislation and subsequent "fixes" will be critical. But also important are the unique issues and perspectives that healthcare financial leaders must consider and be prepared to deal with in helping their organizations adjust.”
Rich Umbdenstock, CEO of the American Hospital Association (AHA):
"Bottom line: the health reform bill may not be perfect, but it expands coverage to 32 million people, enacts significant insurance market reforms and lays a solid foundation upon which we can continue to build. We applaud this landmark effort and look forward to continuing to work with the Administration, Congress and all stakeholders to further improve our health care system for the patients and communities we serve."
Check out a poll on healthcare reform currently running on the insideARM Discussion Forum.