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

Rep. Swalwell urges HHS to Protect Seniors, Reject Medicare Cut

December 21, 2015 | FAH Hospital Policy Blog Team

Category: Backstop, Medicare

Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) recently joined a growing list of lawmakers who are urging the Administration to reject a budget proposal that would hurt low-income seniors by cutting a critical Medicare provision.

Rep. Swalwell sent a letter last week to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell expressing his “concern” regarding proposed drastic cuts to Medicare payments to hospitals. In it he explained how seniors would be hit hard by a budget proposal that reduce those payments from the current rate of 65% to just 25%.

Since its inception, Medicare has included bad debt payments as a backstop for its built-in cost-sharing obligations. This backstop protects Medicare beneficiaries who cannot meet their obligations – often low-income seniors – as well as providers who serve them.

Rep. Swalwell explains in the letter why this is so important to the people of California:

“This reimbursement ensures that seniors in California maintain access to essential health care services, even when they simply cannot afford to pay their cost-sharing obligations…I am concerned that payment reductions could result in reduced access to vital services at hospitals in the East Bay and others across the country. While I understand the difficult budget climate we face, I do not believe savings should come by putting health service for low-income seniors at risk.”

The Federation of American Hospitals salutes Rep. Swalwell for standing up to protect seniors’ access to critical care. He is the latest to join an expanding bipartisan group of legislators who have expressed opposition to the Medicare bad debt reductions. The list includes - Senators Michael BennetGary PetersRoy BluntMarco RubioDean Heller, Representatives Morgan Griffith, Katherine ClarkLois Frankel, Alcee Hastings, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ted Deutch, Frederica Wilson, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart, Tom Rooney, Carlos Curbelo, Patrick Murphy, Joe Heck, Mark Amodei, Dina Titus, Chuck Fleischmann, Phil Roe, Steve Fincher, Marsha Blackburn, John Duncan, Scott DesJarlais, Gwen GrahamRaul RuizSean Duffy, and Kyrsten Sinema.

Click here to read Rep. Swalwell’s letter.