Uninsured patients could suffer as federal hospital waiver expires

Rural hospitals could be especially prone to issues

Uninsured patients could suffer as federal hospital waiver expires
A waiver that would reimburse the State of Texas for coverage provided to the uninsured is set to expire in September of 2022. (Source: KCBD)

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A waiver reimbursing hospitals for care given to those with little-to-no insurance is expiring. That 1115 waiver is set to go in September of 2022.

The federal government informed the State of Texas of the expiration on Friday, according to The Texas Tribune.

“To be honest, it’d be very devastating, the amount of funding and the amount of uninsured patients we treat is what the challenge is,” Steve Beck, chief administrative officer for Covenant Health, said.

A program like the 1115 going away may mean hospitals will eliminate or curtail services. Some rural providers might even close.

Now legislators and others are using this as an opportunity to lobby for the expansion of Medicaid services. A coalition of 188 health care groups is calling for that to happen.

And bills are in the Texas House and Senate to do the same.

“With the expansion of Medicaid, we’re only going to pick up – I say only – we’ll pick up 1.2 million,” Beck said. “We will still be left with a substantial or the majority of still unfunded, uninsured patients.”

Even with an estimated 1.2 million picked up, more than 4 million could still be without. It remains one of the many challenges for Texas, the state with one of the highest rates of uninsured patients in the country.

Now, hospital administrators are looking for ways to fill the gap or find ways to get the policy reinstated.

“I think the challenge is removing the political barriers that are in place right now,” Beck said. “We’re moving from one administration to another and the philosophies are going to be different, the challenges will be different.”

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