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Rep. John Fleming Attacks ACA Provision That Is Holding Down Health Care Costs and Improving Patient Outcomes

BATON ROUGE — New data on health care costs released today by the White House directly refute Rep. John Fleming’s recent claims about the Affordable Care Act, which is actually helping to drive down health care costs and improve patient outcomes.

“Congressman Fleming’s irresponsible comments on the Affordable Care Act are completely at odds with what the health care reform law is actually doing — slowing health care inflation and reducing hospital readmissions,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk.

Today the White House released new data that show health care spending increased by only 1.3 percent annually, the lowest increase on record, since passage of the Affordable Care Act. The Council of Economic Advisers credits changes implemented by the health care reform law for driving down costs by incentivizing hospitals to reduce readmissions. While readmission rates had been stagnant around 19 percent, under the ACA those rates are now declining — a good result for taxpayers and a great result for Medicare patients.

Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Offices of Enterprise Management.

At a recent town hall in Bossier City, Fleming claimed that hospitals might refuse to care for patients because of the Affordable Care Act:

“The other thing when it comes to hospitals that’s going on… again under Obamacare is… this 30-day readmission issue. Where if a hospital has too many readmissions within 30 days of a first admission, they get a huge penalty. Even one episode could wipe out a hospital’s bottom line and put them in bankruptcy. So these hospitals around the country are terrified about this. And you say, well, so what? Well, here’s the so what. You know, if let’s say you need to be readmitted, a hospital’s got to think about what’s going to happen. And they may be forced into the position to try to decide to put you someplace other than the hospital, just for their own survival. You see it’s no longer about doing what’s right for the patient, it’s what doing right by what the government tells you you have to do and what they can do to you in case they catch you doing something wrong.”

Today Fleming continued his misleading claims in a letter to the editor in the Shreveport Times and renewed his call to repeal the ACA.

However, he failed to note that the Republican Study Committee budget, which Fleming voted for earlier this year, relies on Medicare cost savings in the Affordable Care Act. The RSC budget also transforms Medicare into a voucher system and raises the eligibility age to 70.

“Fleming and his colleagues in the Republican Study Committee can’t balance their own budget plan without the ACA’s Medicare cost savings, but he won’t mention that at any of his town halls,” said Handwerk. “He claims he cares about patients, but he wants to end Medicare as we know it and turn this popular program over to the big insurance companies. Fleming should stop trying to scare Medicare recipients and look at the facts — the Affordable Care Act is improving patient outcomes and reducing health care costs.”