AHA Statement on House Health Reform Proposal
President and CEO, American Hospital Association
October 29, 2009
America’s hospitals commend the House leadership for their commitment to this historic effort to expand coverage. Hospitals want to see coverage for all become a reality. That’s why we are pleased the House proposal is expected to expand health coverage to 96 percent of people legally residing in the United States.
Based on our initial review of the plan, it appears there are no cuts to indirect medical education payments that help train tomorrow’s physicians and it extends several important provisions that improve health care in rural America. We strongly support the provision that bans self-referral to new physician-owned hospitals, a practice that drives up health costs and impedes access to high-quality care.
At the same time, we will work with the House to improve upon their plan. Specifically, expanding the number of people in the Medicaid program to 150 percent of the poverty level is problematic at a time when states are struggling with budget shortfalls and payment rates for hospitals continue to be cut. While a public option with negotiated rates for those above 150 percent of the poverty level is an improvement, we remain concerned that the program would still, in part, be based on historically low Medicare rates.
To further improve the bill, lawmakers should narrow the hospital readmissions policy, allow hospitals to play a leadership role in accountable care organizations and address our nation’s medical liability crisis. We’re also concerned that an additional tax on medical devices could be passed on to hospitals and the patients they serve.
For hospitals, reform holds the promise of better access to quality care for all. We pledge to work with Members of Congress to strengthen our health care system for the patients and the communities we serve.
About the AHA
The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the health improvement of their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks, other providers of care and 43,000 individual members. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information, visit the AHA website at www.aha.org.
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