Noteworthy News

Archive for December, 2012


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 [&hellip

State Medicaid Costs Continue to Rise

States are still struggling with rising Medicaid costs, and during the current fiscal year, at least ten states are already over budget. Among the reasons for these overruns are rising enrollment and rising health care costs, according to a new report published by the National Conference of State Legislatures. State Medicaid shortfalls can be especially troublesome for private, non-profit urban safety-net hospitals because of the large numbers of Medicaid patients they serve.  When states face such shortfalls, they sometimes propose reducing Medicaid payments to providers, cutting back on benefits, or reducing eligibility to save money. The challenges that states are [&hellip

Medicaid Primary Care Fee Increase Still Slated for January 1

Unless they fall victim to fiscal cliff negotiations, Medicaid fees for many primary care services will rise on January 1 to the same level as Medicare fees for comparable services. This fee increase, part of the Affordable Care Act, was created to give an incentive to more physicians to serve Medicaid patients in anticipation of the significant increase in Medicaid eligibility that will take place in many states beginning in October of 2013. The anticipated fee increase for Medicaid primary care services is especially important to urban safety-net hospitals because of the large numbers of Medicaid patients they serve. Read [&hellip

NAUH Asks Congress for Help

The National Association of Urban Hospitals has again asked members of Congress to oppose any attempt to address this year’s Medicare SGR patch or the fiscal cliff challenge with still more Medicare or Medicaid cuts, noting the degree to which urban safety-net hospitals have already undergone such cuts and are awaiting others that will soon take effect. Read NAUH’s message to Congress here

Medicaid at Risk in Fiscal Cliff Talks

If Medicaid is a health care program for at-risk low-income people, it appears that Medicaid itself is at risk during the current fiscal cliff talks in Washington, D.C. While Medicaid was left untouched by last year’s sequestration bill, it is now viewed by growing numbers of policy-makers as a potential source of savings to help stave off the fiscal cliff. Several aspects of Medicaid, in particular, appear to be vulnerable in the coming weeks.  They include the creation of a new “blended rate” – a single federal matching rate for both Medicaid and CHIP that could save the federal government [&hellip

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