Sen. Grassley addresses RHS administration, staff


CRESCO - Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley addressed the concerns of administration and staff at Regional Health Services of Howard County regarding the American Health Care Act, House Republicans’ replacement for the current Affordable Health Care Act and 340B programs on Friday, March 17.
RHS staff members questioned Senator Grassley during the meeting, which was closed to the public. Following the event, Senator Grassley took questions from the media.
Among the top concerns expressed by hospital administration and staff were maintaining RHSHC status as a critical access hospital, and continuing the 340B programs.
RHS CEO Robin Schluter remarks
RHSHC CEO Robin Schluter said, “An increase in the uninsured is significant to the healthcare industry, to our communities, the hospitals themselves and to providers. Putting that burden of the uninsured onto those institutions could result in greater closures of rural hospitals across the country. 
One of the things that the bill needs to consider is who is going to be responsible for paying healthcare for those who can’t pay for it themselves.”
Schluter stressed the importance of the ‘critical access hospital’ designation:
“In Iowa, it’s important that the critical access hospital designation remains. We are in place to serve rural communities, where we don’t have high volume, but services are still essential for our community. Without the support of the funding of the critical access hospital status and designation, it’s very hard to maintain services to a community.”
Schluter described the 340B program:
“340B is a federal program that allows certain entities to buy drugs at a reduced rate. The ACA enabled critical access hospitals to receive about $50,000 revenue on a monthly basis, and if that gets repealed or replaced, that’s going to financially impact critical access hospitals significantly.”
Schluter said the issues addressed at the meeting will be of continued concern for those involved with rural healthcare:
“It’s an ongoing concern anytime you have changes this monumental in a service line that affects absolutely everyone,” she said. “It needs to be a big discussion.”
Schluter noted Senator Grassley also toured the recently-renovated hospital.
“Senator Grassley was pleased to see the telemedicine piece we have with Avera eCare. He feels rural medicine needs to embrace that,” she said.
Senator Grassley remarks
When asked how the replacement for the present Affordable Care Act would impact those who currently benefit from it, Grassley said:
“I’m also hearing from a lot of people in Northeast Iowa about high premiums and very high co-pays; one farmer told me his premium went up from $20,000 to $32,000, so there are also people who have access to health insurance but can’t afford it. So, what we’re trying to do is to make health care accessible for anybody who wants it, and affordable.”
To reassure those currently benefiting from the Affordable Care Act, Grassley said, “There are three things I know for sure: People with pre-existing conditions will be able to continue to get insurance; there is no lifetime cap, and children can be on their parents’ insurance until age 26. Those are things that should be left the way they are.
“In one area, particularly for people ages 55-64, before they qualify for Medicare, the help the government is giving under what came out under the House committee is not near enough to meet the needs of the people. A lot of us in rural areas are trying to get that tax credit and refundable tax credit up, so that those people ages 55-64 will be able to afford health insurance. We had people from the House of Representatives visiting with members of the Senate on that very point last Tuesday, and I think we made our point; I think that problem will be taken care of.”
Grassley said the proposed American Health Care Act addresses the issue of choice for those contemplating purchasing health insurance:
“There is not going to be a requirement that people find so offensive, that you have to buy health insurance, when maybe you don’t want to buy health insurance,” he said. “(The Affordable Care Act) is the first time in the history of the country that the federal government says you had to buy something when maybe you don’t want to. 
"On the other hand, every prediction that came out in 2009-2010 when we were considering what now is called the Affordable Care Act that everybody was going to have health insurance, we still have 29 million people today who don’t have health insurance. When you move from a mandated situation — when the federal government says you have to do something — to choice, that’s what people want. We’re returning it to the freedom of the people to make that choice.”
Grassley said the choice in health insurance would not be limited to the four groups (designated ‘bronze,’ ‘silver,’ ‘gold’ and ‘platinum’) under the present Affordable Care Act.
“People will have a lot more choices and they will be able to control their own health insurance through an expansion of a health savings account,” he said. 
“We’re going to do the same thing Obamacare did, but we’re going to do it in a different way. There are going to be refundable tax credits. They’re going to have massive choices and even be able to put it in a health savings account so that they actually own it, and it’s portable from one job to another.”
Grassley said savings will come from other changes made in the bill.


Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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