Letters to the Editor

First, do no harm

While Congress prepares to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, it’s important to remember what’s really at stake – the health and well-being of people – including over 1 million Illinoisans who depend on coverage under the ACA.

We can’t afford to take action that disrupts healthcare coverage and the Illinois economy. Any repeal of ACA coverage should not take effect until the replacement plan takes effect.

If Congress does not make repeal of coverage contingent on adoption of a replacement plan, then Congress should also repeal the hospital payment cuts that help pay for ACA coverage. Illinois hospitals have experienced over $1 billion in ACA payment cuts.

Otherwise, people won’t be able to get the care they need, local economies will suffer and jobs will be lost. Facing revenue losses, hospitals will be forced to cut spending by reducing services and staff, delaying new technology and facilities or shifting costs to privately insured patients.

If Congress repeals coverage and does not replace it, the preliminary estimate is that the loss of this revenue in Illinois will result in a potential loss of $11.6 billion to $13.1 billion in annual economic activity, which translates to a potential loss of 84,000 to 95,000 jobs.

On behalf of our 200 hospitals and 50 health systems, and the patients and communities they serve, IHA looks forward to working in a bipartisan manner with our state and federal officials to improve our health system. Remember the first lesson of medicine – first, do no harm.

A.J. Wilhelmi, president and CEO of Illinois Health and Hospital Association

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