Law has ‘minimal impact’ on providers, good or bad

Friday, April 10, 2015

YARMOUTH, Maine – A provision in the Affordable Care Act that mandates insurance coverage hasn’t necessarily resulted in increased business for HME providers.

Even though about 16 million people now have health coverage thanks to the ACA, provider Doug Westerdahl says the law hasn’t had a material impact on his business, which is predominantly complex rehab.

“If you were disabled, somehow, some way, you already had insurance before the ACA,” said Westerdahl, president of Rochester, N.Y.-based Monroe Wheelchair.

Provider Chip Fuller, who provides home oxygen therapy, agrees.

“If people needed oxygen they were coming to us one way or another,” said Fuller, vice president of operations at Boiling Springs, S.C.-based Quality Home Care. “We offer payment plans, depending on the situation. The fact that some people have insurance now has had a minimal impact on us.”

The ACA also mandates that any employer with 50 or more full-time employees offer health insurance by 2016. Those with 100 or more employees had to start offering insurance starting Jan. 1, 2015.

Here, too, the impact has been minimal for providers like Fuller.

“We only have 30 people, but we’ve always offered insurance for our employees,” he said. “We’ll offer that as long as we can to hire, keep and retain good people.”

Provider Greg LoPresti already offers health insurance to his 150 employees. But the law is making it more and more difficult for him to subsidize the cost of that insurance, he says.

“Our premiums have gone up a full 5% because of the ACA administrative charges,” said LoPresti, senior vice president and CEO of Clinton, N.Y.-based Upstate HomeCare. “The insurance companies are passing those charges onto us and we absorb what we can."