Politics
FILE -- Sens. Al Franken jokes with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on the floor of the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 9, 2009. (REUTERS/Jason Reed) FILE -- Sens. Al Franken jokes with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on the floor of the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 9, 2009. (REUTERS/Jason Reed)  

Harry Reid calls Obamacare cuts at cancer hospitals an in-the-weeds issue

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Patrick Howley
Political Reporter

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told Republican Sen. Tom Coburn Tuesday that his point about how few Obamacare plans are accepted at top cancer hospitals is “in the weeds.”

“Nineteen of the cancer centers in this country, only five are covered under Obamacare,” Coburn told The Washington Examiner.

“Dr. Coburn is very good at getting into the weeds and trying to find something that he thinks makes sense, but I think we need to look at the overall context of this bill,” Reid said at a Thursday Senate press briefing. “It really brings a lot of people in from the cold so that they have the ability to get health insurance, which they’ve never had the opportunity [to do] before.”

Coburn is raising an issue that is playing out in top research hospitals around the country. ”You know, it’s a market, and what they’ve done is they’ve priced it where these cancer centers, a lot of them, aren’t going to participate because they don’t get paid to cover the costs,” he said.

The nation’s top multi-campus cancer hospital The Mayo Clinic, which was cited by President Obama as a health reform model for the nation when promoting the law in 2009, now accepts only one kind of Obamacare insurance plan: the Blue Cross Blue Shield silver plan.

The Cleveland Clinic, a top-four U.S. hospital, is making $330 million in budget cuts this year, including more than $100 million in cuts that the hospital claimed was directly due to Obamacare, and projects a workforce reduction.

Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich spoke at the Cleveland Clinic late last year to present his plan to accept a full Medicaid expansion package under Obamacare. The health law raises federal Medicaid eligibility to 138 percent of the poverty level.

The federal government’s Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals are seen as a way for hospital interests to get a portion of their money back — prompting the hospital lobby to push hard with an effective multi-state pro-Medicaid campaign.

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