2013 UHA State Legislative Agenda
A preview of pertinent healthcare issues anticipated for discussion during the 2013 legislative session.
UHA supports re-authorization of the Hospital Assessment Act
The Utah Hospital Assessment Act was passed in 2010 to avert a 32% reduction in hospital Medicaid inpatient funding due to severe budget cuts in the states budget brought on by the economic recession. A three year “sunset” was placed on this Act so that it could be reviewed again. The funding from the assessment is vital to the State of Utah, Medicaid patients and Utah’s hospitals.
Assessment funding remains critical as the State of Utah moves to the Accountable Care Organization model for Medicaid. The Utah Hospital Association has worked with legislators, the Utah Department of Health and the Accountable Care Organizations to maintain this funding for hospitals as we move to this new funding model.
Hospital Assessment Act funding is used in a majority of the states to provide adequate hospital funding for Medicaid. It has proved effective in maintaining appropriate Medicaid funding without burdening the State of Utah or Utah’s taxpayers for additional funds. Reauthorization of the Hospital Assessment Act will not cost the State of Utah or Utah taxpayers anything.
Senator Lyle Hillyard is sponsoring SB 166 in this legislative session to reauthorize the Hospital Assessment Act. In 2010, the original assessment legislation passed both the Senate and the House by overwhelming votes.
Reauthorization of the Hospital Assessment Act is a vital piece of maintaining the Medicaid program and providing quality care to Medicaid patients. The Utah Hospital Association respectfully requests your support of SB 166 reauthorizing this law.
UHA supports a measured approach to Medicaid expansion
It is important for the economic vitality and development in Utah for Utah citizens and businesses to have appropriate access to quality and affordable healthcare insurance and providers. Medicaid expansion can play an important role in providing health insurance to Utah citizens but expansion must be done in a cost-effective way that does not unravel the current private health insurance market.
Utah hospitals will work to support the Governor and the Legislature in finding the additional state funds to cover the currently Medicaid eligible but unenrolled citizens who will now enroll due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Utah hospitals will have their Medicare reimbursement reduced over $1.5 billion over the next 10 years under the ACA. These cuts were conditional on more individuals becoming insured. Utah hospitals are concerned that the uninsured rate in Utah is increasing, with the latest Utah Department of Health estimate at 20%, the highest in Utah in many years. In addition, DSH funding for hospitals is at risk under the ACA, potentially reducing funding to Utah hospitals by more than $25 million a year.
Utah hospitals agree that finding a “Utah Solution” that works in our state focusing on a free market approach is important and can be accomplished. For example, in making use of the federal tax credits for health insurance, the state can expand the Utah Health Exchange without additional cost to the state. Utah hospitals believe that it is important to take a reasonable measured approach to any additional expansion of Medicaid. To that end, we encourage the Governor to form a Medicaid Advisory Group to include hospital representatives as well as other appropriate healthcare, business and citizen representatives. This advisory group would be tasked to come up with free market solutions that can help expand insurance coverage, use the federal tax credits appropriately and improve the state health exchange without diminishing the role of private commercial insurance.
UHA supports restoration and expansion of student slots for the University of Utah's School of Medicine
By 2020, there is expected to be a shortage of at least 91,500 physicians—45,400 in primary care and 46,100 subspecialists—in the United States. Utah’s physician shortage is even more severe than most other states in the country. As research conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges has found, only three states have fewer physicians per capita than Utah. This shortage will intensify with the influx of the newly insured in 2014, as a result of the Affordable Care Act. It will further worsen as the number of people over age 65 (who use more than twice the healthcare of younger adults) doubles.
Utah is fortunate to be able to train and retain a number of physicians within the state. Utah law mandates that 75 percent of each medical school class at the U be composed of Utah residents. Additionally, approximately 2/3 of all Utah physicians have a connection to the University of Utah School of Medicine.
Sen. John Valentine (R-Orem) is expected to run legislation for this effort during the 2013 session. UHA supports the funding of the expansion of the School of Medicine. With our state and nation facing a shortage of doctors, we need to be admitting more students, not fewer.