Health care law leaves Grady $45 million short

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In an ironic twist, Grady Memorial Hospital faces a $45 million funding loss directly related to a new health care law designed to benefit the hospital.

The result could mean major cuts at Georgia's largest trauma center, according to Channel 2’s Lori Geary.

Danielle Words is an uninsured hospital patient who uses Grady as a safety net because it cares for thousands of uninsured Georgians.

“If I didn’t have this resource, I’d really be in big trouble,” Words said. “It’s very important to me.”

Words plans to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act because she qualifies in the insurance exchange.

Thousands more who are treated at Grady would have qualified for Medicaid, but Georgia chose not to expand the health care program.

“If Georgia were to expand, we estimate we'd have an additional 40,000 patients that would be eligible under the new rolled out expansion of Medicaid," Grady President and CEO John Haupert told Geary.

The Affordable Care Act also cut federal funding for hospitals that care for the poor, like Grady. The intent of the law was to expand Medicaid to offset those losses.

However, the U.S. Supreme Court left Medicaid expansion up to the states and Gov. Nathan Deal decided Georgia could not afford it.

"The impact to Grady when it's fully implemented will be a loss of $45 million a year in funding,” Haupert said.
  
The loss of funding means the hospital must prepare to cut clinical services.

“(It’s) obviously more than a haircut, right?” Haupert said.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers at the state Capitol are aware of the funding issues and are trying to work on solutions, according to Haupert.


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