Fitch: Clinton's healthcare plan could benefit hospitals in the near term, but long-term effects uncertain

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton's broad healthcare proposals could create near-term benefits for nonprofit hospitals. However, if her proposals are implemented, it could lead to uncertainties and operating risk in the longer term, according to a Fitch Ratings report.

Ms. Clinton has proposed expanding Medicaid in the 19 states that have opted not to do so. This move would benefit nonprofit hospitals in those states in the short term, as it would likely lead to an increase in patient volumes and a reduction in bad debt and charity care, according to Fitch. Over the longer term, the benefits would diminish, as the hospitals would likely see fewer patients with commercial insurance.

Fitch said Ms. Clinton's proposals to expand access to health insurance exchanges and to increase reimbursement to aid access in rural areas are likely to be positive for nonprofit hospitals. However, her plan to broaden Medicare eligibility and provide a public option, which would involve a government-run health plan competing with private options on the ACA exchanges, have the potential to negatively affect nonprofit hospitals.

Fitch said it has not commented on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's healthcare plan "due to the lack of specificity on what would be implemented after 'repeal and replace.'"

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