UNC Hospitals is continuing to rely on health care reform as a way to reduce costs even though the legislation is being challenged and might even be repealed.
The hospital has been losing millions in uncompensated care costs and is counting on the provision in the reform that requires everyone to be insured by 2014.
But that specific provision is facing scrutiny nationwide in legislatures and in the courts.
Even legislators in North Carolina are looking to join more than two dozen other states in challenging the provision, meaning that UNC Hospitals’ chances for saving money could be jeopardized.
Health care reform is essential to the 50 million uninsured in the U.S., said Sandra Greene, a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management. And this doesn’t include all the people who are underinsured, meaning they have such high co-pay and deductible payments that they cannot really use health care services.
Many think the challenge will go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, said Joan Krause, a professor in the UNC School of Law.
But UNC Hospitals is preparing to cut costs whether or not the reform sticks.
“We believe that health care reform is happening,” said UNC Hospitals spokeswoman Jennifer James. “And if it’s repealed, we wouldn’t change what we’re doing.”
She said UNC Hospitals is now planning to reduce costs with the implementation of electronic medical records, accountable care organizations and new partnerships — like the one with BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina for a primary care facility.