Seattle Children’s Hospital filed suit against Washington State’s Office of the Insurance Commissioner this week, after Obamacare implementation caused the hospital to be cut from four of the six insurance plans offered by the new Washington Health Benefit Exchange.
As millions lose their insurance nation wide and are forced into plans with significantly higher premiums, the reality of rationed care, initially denied by adamant supporters of the bill, has now hit the country’s most vulnerable, with doctors at Seattle Children’s Hospital speaking out.
“There becomes a point when if you start denying access to care, that you can hurt children and children’s health and that’s what we believe is at risk here,” said Dr. Sandy Melzer, the hospital’s chief strategy officer and senior vice president.
Although the hospital was originally included in many of the state’s commercial market health plans, Group Health Cooperative and Community Health Plan of Washington will now be the only providers including Seattle Children’s Hospital. According to the lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court, the legal obligation to provide access to “essential community providers” has been breached.
Struggling Washington families, especially those among the 49.7 million American’s in poverty, whose children currently receive care from the hospital, fear they will no longer be able to see their doctor once they are forced into one of the five insurance plans that excludes Seattle Children’s.
“The notion that a major insurance plan is going to exclude us from their network is truly precedent-setting and represents a new level of degradation in children’s access to care,” Melzer told the Seattle Times.
Local resident Anne Guadagno is afraid her two young granddaughters will lose their favorite doctor like many others already have, despite President Obama’s promise that everyone would be able to keep their doctors.
“I would want my grandchildren to have the doctor they’ve become accustomed to and are comfortable with. A child that’s been with a certain doctor and nurse and an office needs to stay there,” Guadagno told King 5 News.
The lawsuit also points to Molina Healthcare, one of the state’s new insurers. Although the group was originally denied by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, pointing to the “inadequacy of their provider networks,” the decision was later overturned. Insurance Commissioner spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis said the suit would be examined and resolved through the proper legal channels if necessary.
“We are reviewing Children’s petition to see what lies at the heart of their concerns and will see how it gets resolved through the legal process,” Marquis said.
With millions more set to lose their current insurance, “inevitable” healthcare rationing and an impending shortage of doctors, the future of the nation’s healthcare appears to be anything but affordable for millions of children and adults alike.