HCA Healthcare
September 22, 2020


SOURCE: Nashville Post

AUTHOR: Kara Hartnett

CFO says ACA expansion would drive admissions, new Medicare eligibility would decrease reimbursement

An executive with HCA Healthcare last week weighed the company’s pros and cons of a Joe Biden Administration with less than two months until the presidential election.

Bill Rutherford, CFO of the Nashville-based health giant, said Biden’s plan to work within the confines of the Affordable Care Act to extend a public insurance option would benefit the company, likely driving admissions and adding more patients to the market. A proposal to lower the eligible age for Medicare from 65 to 60, though, would harm their bottom line.

Rutherford said with a Biden Administration there would be “more of a willingness” to work within the existing ACA structure and that the company supports efforts in helping states explore Medicaid expansion.

“I see there’s a plus side with working within the existing Affordable Care Act and strengthening that to help more people gain access to affordable health care. In my eyes I would put that on a positive side of the ledger,” he said.

On the negative side of the ledger, Rutherford said lowering Medicare eligibility would shift patients with commercial insurance to the federally-funded program, dramatically reducing reimbursement HCA’s facilities are now receiving in patients aged 55 to 60.

“Depending on how the details of that work out, there’s no question really that’s a negative for us,” Rutherford said. “To me, I don’t know what problem that solves. It shifts more liability into government roles and you are going to have to find a way to fund it. You may have to further adjust tax policy, you may have to think about how do you adjust benefits to existing Medicare.

That will be a takeaway for us and that we will have to figure out and decide and determine where we adjust accordingly.”