Hospitals serving low-income patients favor keeping the health care reform law passed last year which insures millions of additional patients, according to an industry group.

The National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems opposes the repeal of the 2010 law known as the Affordable Care Act.

The group is positioning itself as a resource to make certain that any contemplated legislative measure to improve the law do not inadvertently unravel the safety net or harm the patients who depend on it, Bruce Siegel, CEO of the organization said in a released statement last week.

The health care repeal is not likely to happen, although Republicans in the House of Representatives - who are the majority - are likely to schedule a vote to do so in the coming weeks.

While Republicans have vowed to vote in favor of a repeal, a Democratic majority in the Senate and the veto power wielded by President Barack Obama would likely block the a repeal.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-OK, said last week that some in the media have asked why we plan to spend time waging this fight in the face of difficult odds.

The answer is simple: the American people have made clear their priorities are cutting spending and creating jobs, which is why we need to repeal the President's trillion-dollar law.  

Siegel noted that while the new health care law has expanded coverage to 30 million additional people, about 22 million are not covered.

He also said that while Medicaid - the government's low income health insurance - was expanded with the law, the program substantially underpays providers, resulting in gaps in access to care.

In addition hospitals such as those in his association - which take losses from serving the uninsured and Medicaid patients - are being affected by major cuts to a program which helps them, known as the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program.

How much money the federal government gives to states for DSH payments is calculated by law.

The approximate reduction in DSH payments over 10 years due to the healthcare reform law is roughly $3 billion over 10 years, according to report last year by David Johnson, an attorney with the firm Bricker & Eckler.

The law reduced DHS payments under the assumption that more covered individuals would reduce the need for those types of hospital payments.

The impact on hospitals could, therefore, be enormous, particularly in areas where the amount of uncompensated care does not drop as much as expected, e.g., border states or other locations with large undocumented immigrant populations, Johnson stated.

Siegel says his group is seeking to work with the Obama administration and leaders from both parties to improve the law in meaningful ways, including restoration of DSH payments and other improvements to ensure the continued success of the Medicaid program.