Noteworthy News

Could Safety-Net Hospitals Fall Off Fiscal Cliff?

Hospitals are increasingly worried that policy-makers in Washington will seek to pay their way out of the fiscal cliff crisis with painful Medicare and Medicaid cuts.

Medicare, in particular, seems to be in the sights of fiscal cliff negotiators, and among the cuts being mentioned are reducing outpatient fees, cutting payments to teaching hospitals and rural hospitals, raising the age for Medicare eligibility to 67, and requiring higher-income seniors to pay higher Medicare premiums.

Hospital officials, noting that they already face significant Medicare cuts as part of implementation of the Affordable Care Act, suggest that such cuts could jeopardize access to care for some low-income seniors and lead them to reduce or cut money-losing but essential services.

Such cuts could be especially harmful to the nation’s urban safety-net hospitals, which care for especially large numbers of low-income seniors and depend on medical education payments and outpatient fees to help pay for that care.  These hospitals are already girding for upcoming cuts in their Medicare disproportionate share hospital payments (Medicare DSH) beginning this fall.

Read more about the prospect of Medicare cuts and the potential implications of those cuts in this New York Times articledollars.

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