Las Vegas Sun

February 18, 2019

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Hospitals complain about payments to treat prisoners under Obamacare

CARSON CITY — Hospitals are complaining about lower payments to treat Nevada prisoners after inmates were switched to Medicaid coverage under Obamacare, officials said.

“Hospitals are suggesting they may not need our business,” said Scott Sisco, deputy director of the Nevada Department of Corrections.

To save money, the state switched coverage for inmates from the Hometown Health Plan to Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act, and that has meant lower payments to hospitals, officials said.

Ed Epperson, CEO of Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center, told a local economic development group Wednesday that the impact has been devastating. “The burden is just not affordable,” he said in a report in the Nevada Appeal.

To make matters worse, Nevada is dealing with an aging prison population, Sisco told the Legislative Interim Finance Committee on Wednesday. Many inmates are arriving with cancer, heart disease, diabetes and liver problems.

A breakdown shows 11.1 percent of inmates are 55 years and older compared to a national average of 7.1 percent. Treatment of this group makes up 31 percent of the prison system’s medical budget.

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