KC must pay for indigent health care, Truman CEO says, because full Obamacare help 10 years off

The head of Truman Medical Center says it may take 10 more years before the nation’s Affordable Care Act accomplishes what its supporters hope.

In the meantime, said Truman CEO John Bluford said, Kansas Citians still need to take up some of the slack in treating the area’s poor.

“It’s going to take time,” Bluford said at a meeting of The Star’s Editorial Board on Monday.

Bluford spoke on behalf of the Continue to Care Committee, the group pushing for renewal of part of Kansas City’s property tax levy for indigent health care.

The committee kicked off its campaign Monday. It has raised at least $70,000 for the campaign, according to state filings.

The health levy renewal is Question 1 on the city’s April ballot. If approved, the owner of a $100,000 home in Kansas City would continue to pay roughly $43 a year, for the next decade, to support Truman, the ambulance service, the several neighborhood health centers.

The ACA — commonly knowns as Obamacare — is designed to provide some additional cash for those services. Virtually all Americans will be required to carry some type of health insurance next year, or pay a tax, a requirement that is expected to mean tens of millions in additional revenue for health care providers.

But the ACA also cuts reimbursements to hospitals, including Truman, for their costs in treating patients who can’t pay. Bluford said those cuts will exceed expected revenue from newly-insured patients for several years to come.

That, he said, means keeping the city’s entire health levy is critical.

“It’s a great investment that the community makes,” he said.