fah hospital policy blog

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

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.

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.