North Arkansas Regional Medical Center president/CEO Vince Leist gave the hospital board of directors some sobering news regarding the future of health care under Medicare for all proposals.

Leist has said the hospital loses money on each Medicare patient because Medicare doesn’t cover all costs necessary to keep the health care field afloat.

Integris Health of Oklahoma City laid off 171 employees as a result of increased costs and reduced Medicare reimbursements.

“Fourteen hospitals have closed in the country since the first of the year, basically the same issues,” Leist said.

While negotiating rate payments from insurance providers, the hospital is waiting for the rules stemming from the executive order signed in June by President Trump for public information required regarding discounted rates with insurance providers.

He said he told members of the Arkansas Congressional delegation who were in Harrison recently that the insurance companies need to be involved in the process to make it most efficient.

“They’ve got to be a part of this discussion,” Leist said.

He said one thing that might come out of the matter is a validation that Medicare is not paying for the cost of health care.

Leist told the Daily Times that the Congressional delegation seemed to be sensitive to the plight of Medicare, especially in an election season with so many Democratic candidates running on a platform of Medicare for all.

Leist said there is a deficit between what Medicare pays for health care and the actual cost of treatment. Health care providers have long shifted the cost of that deficit by charging private insurance companies more for services.

“And now the insurance companies obviously are tired of paying the bill for both,” he said.

Leist said Medicare for all is not financially feasible under the rates Medicare will pay. He explained that Medicare has a set rate for what it will pay for any service and that’s the reimbursement for health care providers.

Rather than paying a percentage of the amount the hospital charges for a service, Medicare pays a flat fee. As such, raising rates at the hospital makes no difference.

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