fah hospital policy blog

Perspectives on health policy affecting America’s hospitals and the patients we serve.

Category Archives: hearings

Hospital Community to Congressional Committees: Reject Hospital Cuts

February 04, 2015 | FAH Hospital Policy Blog Team

Category: Hearings, Legislation, Medicare

Over the next several weeks, the Congress must resolve the looming cut to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) for physician payments. The hospital community strongly supports its physician partners and encourages policymakers to come together to find a permanent solution. However, any Medicare physician payment fix must recognize the impact further hospital cuts would have on our patients, caregivers and the communities we serve. That is why today the FAH joined with several leading hospital and health systems organizations in co-signing a letter to the Senate Finance Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, and the House Energy and Commerce committee, urging policymakers to reject any hospital Medicare cuts intended as a pay-for to the SGR.

This letter acknowledges and thanks the Committees for their renewed efforts in 2015 to develop a permanent solution to the SGR, which determines Medicare payments to physicians. The letter also outlines for policymakers the current—and crucial —fiscal state of affairs facing America’s hospitals, and the impact of the annual hunt for short-term patches to the SGR:

“For too long, the annual action of “patching” the SGR has resulted in postponement of a sustainable and predictable remedy, escalated the budgetary cost of an eventual solution and resulted in significant and damaging Medicare and Medicaid cuts to hospitals. These cuts have contributed in part to the nearly $122 billion in reductions imposed on hospitals since 2010.”

It also outlines a key concern for hospitals as policymakers seek doc fix offsets and their effect on our patients.

“…it is unsustainable and unacceptable for hospitals to take on any further financial burden in order for this to be accomplished. We urge the committees to recognize the operational realities facing community hospitals.”

“Eliminating planned cuts to physicians in Medicare is aimed at ensuring access to care for our nation’s Medicare beneficiaries. Simultaneously cutting hospital payments defeats this purpose by raising new barriers to access. We urge you to oppose any additional hospital Medicare and Medicaid cuts to offset the cost of resolving the SGR.”

This letter echoes sentiments expressed by the FAH President and CEO Chip Kahn in a letter submitted earlier this week to the Budget Committee leadership in both Congressional chambers on the FY2016 budget.

Today, voices of hospitals and health systems across the country join together, and ask the Senate Finance Committee, during its hearing with HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell, to take heed of the harsh fiscal reality facing hospitals. Historically low -9% Medicare margins and $122 billion in cuts since 2010 are pushing hospitals to the brink, and risking seniors’ access to care.

We must pursue sound policies that support hospitals and protect our patients’ ability to receive the care they need. These two notions are not mutually exclusive. We can work towards a permanent SGR solution without burdening other facets of hospital care with additional cuts.

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The FAH Letter to Budget Chairs: Reject All Hospital Cuts in President Obama’s FY 2016 Budget

February 02, 2015 | Chip Kahn

Category: Financing, Hearings, Medicare

Today, on behalf of the FAH and our more than 1,000 member hospitals, I sent a letter to the Budget committee leadership in both chambers asking them to reject all hospital cuts contained in the Administration’s FY2016 budget. Since 2010, $122 billion in cumulative cuts have been imposed on hospitals. The net effect of this budget is to add to that total. Further cuts would threaten patient access to care, especially for America’s seniors, reduce critical service lines, and disrupt key economic engines in communities throughout the country.

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Extender Policies Critical For America’s Rural Hospitals

January 09, 2014 | FAH Hospital Policy Blog

Category: Hearings, Rural

Today the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Health Subcommittee is holding a hearing to address the flawed Medicare payment formula known as the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), and move closer to a more permanent solution. The hearing will also explore the impact of extenders policies for Medicare payments that are expiring, and how they will work within a new payment structure.

The FAH submitted a statement to the Committee in support of an SGR fix, identifying critical extender policies for rural hospitals that must be included in any payment system modifications. The continued efforts of Congress to find and implement a replacement to the SGR system is necessary to hospitals around the country who require dependable Medicare payments for their physicians and staff.

Rural hospitals, which traditionally serve older, low-income populations, are disproportionately affected by these issues; the unique patient demographic in rural regions often lend to a high volume of Medicare dependent patients with a lower volume of patients overall. This is why the extension of the Low-Volume Hospital Payment Adjustment (LVH) and Medicare Dependent Hospital Program (MDH) are essential for rural hospitals to continue to provide care.

Rural hospitals are often the sole provider of comprehensive medical care in their communities and also serve as the largest employer and economic engine in these areas. With more than 60 million Americans—representing 20% of the population—residing in rural regions, the protection of these local hospitals is essential. Patients in these areas depend on their community hospital for quality care and economic stability. If these hospitals are forced to close their doors, these residents will have to travel great distances to receive care, and communities will suffer significant health care job losses.

The FAH is pleased to submit a statement to the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee to advocate for the extension of the LVH and MDH programs. A permanent fix to the SGR payment flaw must include provisions to protect rural hospitals, which serve as a cornerstone of their communities.

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Senate HELP Hearing Focuses on Efforts to Reduce Healthcare-Associated Infections

September 24, 2013 | FAH Hospital Policy Blog

Category: Hearings, Research

Today the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) will hold a hearing on U.S. Efforts to Reduce Healthcare-Associated Infections. Doctor Jonathan Perlin, Chief Medical Officer of the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) is set to testify. HCA, a member organization of FAH, led a groundbreaking study earlier this year on the use of special disinfectant soaps and ointments to decrease the rate of bloodstream infections in hospital patients, namely MRSA.

Containing the spread of hospital-borne infections like MRSA is a major goal of FAH member hospitals and of all hospitals in America. In a previous blog post, FAH discussed the importance of the HCA study, whose results will change ICU treatments across the country. The study found that the universal use of these specialized treatments on ICU patients resulted in a 50% reduction of infection rates.

FAH would like to thank the Senate HELP committee for its focus on the critical issue of healthcare-associated infections which hospitals work to reduce every day. We hope that this hearing will lead to not only more focus on infection prevention, but also the adoption of innovative best practices like those demonstrated by HCA, in hospitals across the country.

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