AHA Statement on the Final Report from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility
President and CEO
American Hospital Association
It is never an easy task to tackle the deficit and we appreciate the hard work of the commission as they have taken on the challenge.
Today's final report contains recommendations that could jeopardize hospital services for vulnerable patients and communities. This is at a time when hospitals already face $155 billion in cuts as part of health reform. While we appreciate the commission dropping cuts to the DSH program that provides funding to hospitals that serve a large population of poor and uninsured patients, we are very disappointed that a number of problematic provisions remain. The report calls for all hospitals to be subject to the independent payment advisory board - a commission established by the reform bill to set Medicare payment rates. This flies in the face of congressional intent and removes lawmakers from decisions that will affect health care in their community. The proposal also calls for reductions in federal spending on graduate and indirect medical education at a time when physicians are in short supply. In addition, the report calls for cutting the Medicare bad debt program that provides additional funding to hospitals that treat seniors who are unable to pay their bills.
While the recommendations make some positive movement in liability reform, we are disappointed that caps on non-economic damages were removed. The elimination of provider taxes in the Medicaid program will remove crucial funding for states already under significant budget pressures. And while we are supportive of testing delivery systems reforms such as ACOs and bundling, these are untested ideas that should not be broadly implemented until significant evaluation occurs, and legal and regulatory barriers that impede collaboration between hospitals and physicians are eliminated. We also have concerns that the recommendation to cap national health expenditures does not take into account the aging population and the demand for services.
We know that these recommendations will undergo further discussion, and we will work to achieve changes that ensure the health care needs of Americans are met.
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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