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Memorial sees no change in uninsured patients

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

The White House is reporting 7.1 million Americans are now insured through the healthcare marketplace, and officials in Georgia said that includes nearly 177,000 Georgians.  

Memorial Health University Medical Center officials said they have seen no change in the number of uninsured patients they treat since open enrollment began under the Affordable Care Act.

Memorial Health CEO Maggie Gill said before the marketplace opened, ten percent of Memorial Health's patients were uninsured and today that number remains the same.

"There was not enough participation in the healthcare exchange to move that number in a significant fashion, so it's still close to ten percent," said Gill.  

Memorial Health is the only level one trauma center in the Savannah area, and part of being a level one trauma center means they don't turn anyone away. They also receive special federal funding from the government to offset the cost of treating the uninsured.

Now, Memorial Health will receive 75 percent less from the government because of the ACA, even though they are serving the same number of people without health insurance. 

"You know of our ten percent, it was certainly intended that the majority of that would have some type of coverage," said Gill.  

Gill said the ACA was created with the intent of expanding the Medicaid program. However, since Gov. Nathan Deal refused to do that, a lot of people still can't afford any type of health insurance.

"It would have created eligibility for a percentage of the population that doesn't have eligibility today," said Gill.

Even though Memorial Health will lose about $14 million dollars a year from the federal government, the hospital will be able to adjust without impacting patient care or jobs.

"There will be no change to the services we provide and no change to the community," said Gill.

But Gill's biggest concern? Will their uninsured population remain uninsured?  

"It's unfortunate that they don't have health insurance because there are basic healthcare needs that people have," said Gill.

She said as long as Georgia sits on the sidelines, the hospital will continue to see a higher number of uninsured patients.

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