Hospitals Eye Spending Bill to Stop Cuts

Hospital groups are asking lawmakers to prevent billions of dollars in Medicare pay reductions next year as part of a government funding bill that’s on Congress’s agenda for this week.

The Coalition to Protect America’s Health Care, which represents hospital groups, announced yesterday it will launch a television ad campaign in Washington, D.C., urging Congress to stop the cuts.

Some of those same hospital lobbies, such as the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals, sent a letter to congressional leaders asking for action before the end of the year and warning that hospitals already face increasing supply costs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Additional Medicare reductions to providers are not sustainable and put our members’ ability to care for their patients at risk,” the groups warned in their letter.

One hospital lobbyist said the groups are pushing for action this week to stop cuts set to take effect at the end of the year. Congress must pass legislation to fund the government by Dec. 3 or the government will partially shut down. Leaders are considering a measure that would run to mid-to-late January.

Medicare fee-for-service payments could be reduced by $14.1 billion in 2022 unless there’s action by the end of the year, according to the AHA, because of mandatory spending sequestration under the Budget Control Act and statutory pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) requirements — two mechanisms meant to limit federal spending.

Hospitals are asking Democratic and Republican leaders to agree to waive PAYGO, something Congress has done to prevent across-the-board cuts to federal programs triggered when lawmakers pass bills that add to government spending without some kind of offset.

They’re also asking lawmakers to postpone sequestration — automatic cuts to federal spending meant to help with the deficit — to the end of the federal public health emergency around Covid-19, which is set to expire in mid-January but is likely to be extended further into 2022. Read more from Alex Ruoff.


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