NewYork-Presbyterian CEO on GOP plan to replace Obamacare

In this installment of our series, Issues That Matter, we take a closer look at the Republican health care bill aimed at replacing the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) and the questions surrounding its costs and coverage.

Dr. Steven Corwin, president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian, one of the nation’s largest health care providers which serves more than four million patients each year, said the GOP’s American Health Care Act and its provisions to roll back Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion “is going to create a real problem” because “a lot of people are not going to be insured.”

Under the GOP plan, there would be no more individual mandate requiring people to have health insurance or face fines. On Monday the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said 14 million more Americans would be uninsured by 2018 if the Republican legislation takes effect. 

“I think that we have to as a country decide, is health care a right or is it a privilege? If it’s a right, then we’ve got to insure everybody. And if we want to ultimately control the cost of health care, you’ve got to insure people,” Corwin said Tuesday on “CBS This Morning.”

At NewYork-Presbyterian, Corwin said 30 percent of patients are covered by Medicaid; one in three New York City residents are on Medicaid.  

“You’ve got to take care of poor people,” Corwin said. “In the states that didn’t expand Medicaid, you have to earn less than $6,000 a year to qualify for Medicaid for a family of three. Now as a country, I think we’ve got to come to grips with that. I believe in a public-private partnership. You have to have commercial insurance and you have to have Medicare and Medicaid. Let’s come together and figure out how to do this. This bill absolutely does not do this.”

Without the individual mandate, Corwin said, “you cannot have a functioning insurance market.”

“You need young healthy people who are paying premiums in to offset the costs of other people who are sick,” he explained. 

Corwin acknowledged the cost of health care in the U.S. is too high, and said efforts need to be made to bring costs down. “But having said that, you’ve got to insure people. And I think that by not insuring people, the cost of health care is going to continue to go up.”

In a letter to Congress, the American Hospital Association, of which Corwin is a member, said that in addition to the CBO’s analysis, it is concerned about the GOP plan’s “effort to restructure the Medicaid program.” In conclusion, the group said, “we cannot support The American Health Care Act in its current form.”

Editor’s note: “CBS This Morning” co-host Charlie Rose underwent heart surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian in February.