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Medical Outlays May Be Slashed

October 23, 2008
impact on health care Medical outlays may be slashed Patients may forgo elective care, and if people lose jobs, their coverage will go too. By David Migoya The Denver Post Article Last Updated: 09/25/2008 02:10:46 AM MDT Related Sep 25: Despite bailout agreement, McCain still won't commit to debateColoradans react to bailoutBush yields on exec payScenarios sans federal rescueEffects on holiday sales unclearMoney-market rates up as banks hoard cashFast food servers pump up valueSkepticism of bailout risingDoubts on bailout keep Street tenseSep 24: Bush warns of 'long recession'Obama rejects McCain call to postpone debateDems seek to slash bailout; Bush on TV tonightBush warns 'entire economy is in danger'Critics out to put holes in golden parachutesBailout plan a tough sellMarkets continue slideNew Freddie Mac CEO paid less than predecessorAIG: Deal completeFinancial liquidity, oversight soughtDebt impact has been biggerHealth-care industry observers, like many, are taking a wait-and- see attitude toward the federal government's proposed $700 billion Wall Street bailout plan, hoping that troubles don't spiral and leave them spattered. As lawmakers haggle over the extent and scope of the bailout, the health-care industry is likely to take an ancillary hit, insiders say, but how deep the wound would be is unknown. "The uncertainty is on the security of health care, and that can create very conservative behavior," said Debbie Welle-Powell, public- affairs vice president at Exempla Healthcare. "In health care, affordability is always the prime issue, so I suspect people will forgo elective care, and as a result we might see people accessing health Financial Crisis Rescue: Read the bailout law Question: Is my money safe? Understand: What you need to know View: Images from the global crisis Watch: Your Money: Managing your kids needs Watch: Your Money: 401K plans in trying times Watch: Watching your 529 plan Watch: What lies ahead in 2009? Watch: Colorado citizens react to financial crisis Discuss: What would you do? Watch: Bush warns of "long and painful recession" in speech care less." That could create a pileup at the emergency room, where hospitals are required to treat patients, insured or not. "The irony is the problem Congress seeks to address is what will put the unemployed onto the street," said Steven Summer, chief executive of the Colorado Hospital Association. "Health care is now very dependent on the employer- sponsored system. "Those who lose their job lose their health care." Foundations that make health- care-related grants have to step back and assess their investment portfolios, which could be affected by the crisis. "As an organization that does grant-making when there's less public money available, philanthropies may have to fill the void," said Chris Power-Bain, spokeswoman for the Colorado Health Foundation. "Investments might be impacted." Both presidential candidates have said they will not scale back their plans to reform health care — although they admit a phase-in is more likely because of the cost of the bailout. The concern is that the Treasury will be bare, tied up in bailout commitments, leaving Americans to deal with no health-care plan. "Our No. 1 priority is the trillion-dollar bailout of markets, and that's less money for health-care reform," Welle-Powell said. David Migoya: 303-954-1506 or dmigoya@denverpost.com