Reductions in Medicaid impact local hospitals

This week we've been exploring how people can sign up and pay for health insurance. NewsSource 8's Connor Cyrus continues our coverage by exploring how reductions in Medicaid impacts local hospitals.

Greg LaFrancois is the president of The Aroostook Medical Center. In the 7 years since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, he says it has benefited the hospital, especially through Medicaid.

"They've dramatically helped rural hospitals because it reduced the bad debt load that hospitals carry," said LaFrancois. "And so many hospitals who would have failed otherwise, remained servicing their communities because they have a lower bad debt load and are viable."

Bad debt for a hospital is the unpaid balance a it collects from people who do not have health insurance.

LaFrancois says Medicaid is one of the biggest payers to The Aroostook Medical Center and other area hospitals.

The CEO's of the other 3 County hospitals agree.

Tom Moakler, CEO of Houlton Regional Hospital, says that most people do not realize that Houlton Regional is one of 16 critical access hospitals in the state and that Medicaid is one of the better payers.

Peter Sirois, Chief Executive Officer at Northern Maine Medical Center, says that losing Medicaid is going to create a large deficit to all healthcare providers.

If President Trump is able to keep his promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, then as it stands right now, the amount of people eligible for Medicaid would decrease. LaFrancois says this would have a direct impact on hospitals.

"Medicaid covers nursing care for our citizens, beyond that the other population is children and so a large number of our children are covered under Medicaid," said LaFrancois. "So it's a significant payer for our hospital."

"We have an ICF / IID in Van Buren, it's a 9 bed facility for folks with disability and that is 100% covered by Medicaid," said Kris Doody, the CEO Cary Medical Center. "So if there is any reduction for the reimbursement for that service, we are going to have to look at what we do differently to still provide care for those residents."

The hospital will be responsible for any reduction in Medicaid services and could increase their bad debt and possibly impact what services they offer.

The CEO's of area hospitals say people should stay informed about potential changes to Medicaid imposed by the federal government.