HHS released a report today with the not so shocking news that uninsured patients who are hospitalized end up leaving a large portion of their bills unpaid. According to the study, “uninsured families can only afford to pay in full for about 12% of the admissions to hospital (hospitalizations) they might experience.” The report has received a fair bit of play in the media, including this item from USA Today.
Presumably, HHS thinks this helps make the case for the unpopular Obama health law. As USA Today put it, “Health and Human Services released the report as the White House defends the federal health care law passed last year.” But everyone, right and left alike, recognizes that what is known as “uncompensated care” for the uninsured is a huge burden. The question is what to do about it, and the new and expensive law calling for mandates coupled with subsidies for people earning up to 400 percent of the poverty line is not the correct approach.
This comes on the same day that a panel of three 4th Circuit judges in Virginia — all three Democratic appointees — have heard arguments on the constitutionality of the individual mandate. According to Bloomberg, the Obama administration defended the mandate by arguing that, “Congress has broad power to regulate the health-care market.” No word yet on what they will rule, but the odds of this particular panel overturning the mandate seem pretty remote. This makes the case in the 11th Circuit, which will review Judge Roger Vinson’s decision overturning the entire health-care law, even more important.