Las Vegas Sun

August 1, 2014

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UMC, county social services must adapt to health care law, commissioners told

The issue: Changes from the Affordable Care Act that go into effect in 2014 will have a significant impact on University Medical Center and Clark County’s social services department. At Monday’s Clark County Commission meeting, leaders from both organizations presented a look-ahead to the challenges and opportunities presented by the act.

The vote: The item was a report and was not voted on by commissioners.

What it means: The 2010 Affordable Care Act will increase the number of Nevadans who have insurance or Medicaid beginning in 2014. While University Medical Center CEO Brian Brannman and Clark County social services director Tim Burch agree that the increased access to care will benefit the community, it provides unique challenges for each organization.

UMC expects to save $297 million through 2019 via reduction in uninsured care provided by the hospital, but the expansion of Medicaid as well as reductions to reimbursement rates could increase costs at the hospital by about $350 million over the same time period.

Brannman said the hospital will have to find new ways to deliver cost-effective care and continue to invest in capital improvements to attract a broad mix of patient-types.

At the county’s social services department, the Affordable Care Act will shift all of its clients currently receiving medical assistance onto either Medicaid or Nevada’s new insurance exchange.

Because 80 percent of the social services clients are receiving medical assistance, moving those people into other forms of care could require a drastic restructuring of the department to focus on its other services, including financial assistance.

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