fah hospital policy blog

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

Category Archives: sequester

Pushing Medicare Past the Financial Brink: Why Using Medicare as a Piggybank is the Wrong Decision

January 10, 2014 | FAH Hospital Policy Blog

Category: Medicare, Sequester

America’s hospitals are deeply sensitive to the needs of securing additional support for the millions of American’s who remain unemployed. However, any solution that would extend the Medicare sequester to 2024 is terrible public policy. This would create a dangerous precedent for members of Congress, and will create serious problems for Americans—especially our most vulnerable seniors on Medicare. As Emily Ethridge highlights in a story out today, the notion of paying for the extension of unemployment benefits by adding another year onto the sequester has raised the ire of many in the health care arena.

Local community hospitals already face more than $400 billion in cuts over the next ten years; $113 billion in cuts have been imposed over the last three years alone. Further, Medicare already pays far below the cost to provide essential care for seniors. More cuts will force hospital closures, cuts to jobs and critical services and restrict access to care for millions of Americans nationwide.

It is unacceptable for Congress to routinely find “solutions” to fiscal problems by smashing the Medicare piggy bank. The amendment put forth by Senator Reed breaks the promise to America’s seniors by threatening to undermine their access to care. The FAH urges Senators to oppose the Reed amendment and work to find alternative ways to extend critically important unemployment benefits.

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Cutting Medicare: Hurting Patients and Local Hospitals

January 09, 2014 | FAH Hospital Policy Blog

Category: Medicare, Sequester

As members of Congress search for a means to pay for the recently approved extension of unemployment benefits, extending the Medicare sequester for an additional year—to 2024—is being discussed as one possible solution. The FAH strongly opposes this idea and is disappointed Congress would cut Medicare and threaten access to care for seniors.

The Medicare sequester is already causing serious financial strife and hospitals have not seen any relief in the latest redistribution of sequester cuts. Harsh cuts are the everyday reality for your local hospitals, and in turn, our patients. In 2012, hospitals faced nearly $46 billion in uncompensated care, up from $41 billion in 2011. Hospitals already face more than $400 billion in cuts over the next ten years; $113 billion in cuts have been enacted over the last three years alone.

Extending the Medicare sequester doesn’t merely add numbers to hospital cuts—it impacts every hospital and every patient we care for. There are lives behind the economics. This is the reality when hospitals face increasing cuts:

* Patient access to care is threatened

* Hospital closures occur, especially in rural regions

* Health care jobs are lost, further hurting the local community economy

Policymakers cannot continue with these decisions that rob Peter to pay Paul. The extension of unemployment benefits cannot come at the expense of hospitals and our patients. The FAH is disappointed to learn Congress is considering an extension and urges members to find an alternate, fiscally responsible solution to the issue at hand.

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Plan for Sequestration Relief Must Consider Hospitals

December 04, 2013 | FAH Hospital Policy Blog

Category: Backstop, Medicare, Sequester

A recent POLITICO article highlights the latest state of negotiations between Budget Conference Chairs Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), who are reportedly close to a proposal that would replace certain domestic and defense sequester cuts for the next two years and increase spending from $967 billion into the $1 trillion range. A bill could be introduced as early as this week with floor action next week. A deal struck between Ryan and Murray could help stave off a potential second government shutdown next month.

The article explains that the new spending would be divided equally and sequester cuts would be spread out and moved to different programs and areas in the budget:

“If the two sides agree to that approach, the increase in spending would be split about evenly between defense and nondefense spending, sources said. Roughly $80 billion of the sequester cuts would instead be shifted to other programs in the federal budget, but overall deficit reduction would remain unchanged.”

The story goes onto name Head Start, transportation and housing programs as those domestic spending items atop the priority list for relief. It is imperative that any negotiation to replace sequester cuts include relief for hospitals’ $45 billion in Medicare sequester cuts. Continuation of these cuts will threaten hospital jobs, patient access to care and hospital closures in rural regions, as well as hinder the progress made in the historic spending slowdown in health care.

Hospitals have already borne the brunt of mounting payment cuts, working to deliver the high quality care patients need and deserve. In the past three years alone, local hospitals nationwide have faced $95 billion in cuts, with the sequester accounting for $45 billion. In total, hospitals are facing nearly $500 billion in Medicare and Medicaid cuts over the course of the next ten years. Enough is enough; Medicare must be included in the sequester relief.

Hospitals provide care 24/7, no matter the circumstances. In the face of these massive cuts, hospitals have been forced to downsize their staffs and, in some cases, even close their doors completely, forcing members of their community to seek care far from home.

Sequestration relief is necessary for hospitals to continue to serve their communities and protect patient access to care nationwide. The FAH urges the budget conferees to include relief for hospitals and health care in their negotiations.

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Investing in Passion – Patient Care in Haiti

November 27, 2013 | FAH Hospital Policy Blog

Category: Non-profit, Sequester

One of FAH’s member hospital companies, RegionalCare Hospital Partners, is expanding their practice to an unexpected place - Thomazeau, Haiti. RegionalCare partnered with Nashville based disaster relief non-profit LiveBeyond and is scheduled to break ground on a new hospital in Haiti at the beginning of 2014. RegionalCare has already sponsored four group volunteer trips to Thomazeau and is set to send ten more groups to Haiti in 2014, reports E.J. Boyer of the Nashville Business Journal. As the hospital is being built, LiveBeyond and RegionalCare have been operating a makeshift clinic in Thomazeau, focusing on dental, wound and maternity care.

During difficult financial times, hospitals across the country are facing harsh budget cuts and struggling to do more with less. So what is driving this Brentwood based hospital to build a new hospital and send its doctors, clinicians, staff and even senior leadership to Haiti for weeks at a time? RegionalCare believes in harnessing its employees’ passion to expand their mission; in turn, they believe it will create a stronger, more effective, high-quality care system at home.

Jeff Atwood, vice president of communications at RegionalCare explains:

“If we invest in our employees and allow them to invest in their passion … it will translate to high-quality hospitals,” he said. “If we do the right thing, people will want to work for us.”

Hospitals’ number one priority is to provide the highest quality health care for their patients. RegionalCare embodies this principle and believes that by investing in its employees to pursue their passions abroad, they can create a positive work environment at home that directly benefits their patients in the U.S.

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