Hospitals need a predictable partner in the federal government, AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack said today at a forum on Medicare’s future sponsored by the National Journal. With Medicare accounting for a large portion of federal spending, the notion of cutting Medicare and then using the savings for other purposes becomes “part of the discussion any time there is a fiscal cliff or anything related to the federal budget,” said Pollack. He called such policies “completely irresponsible.” As opposed to “just ratcheting provider rates,” Pollack said the pathway to the future lies in “achieving efficiencies through delivery system reforms that help patients get better care,” noting that many hospitals and health systems are already working with other providers to manage care across the continuum. Medicare celebrates its 50th anniversary this month. “This is a celebration of a program that has provided financial security to so many, that has helped the disabled and the chronically ill and has been a driver of innovation,” said Pollack, who will become the AHA’s president and CEO in September.