A number of legislative proposals being considered by Congress would impose billions of dollars in additional Medicare payment cuts for services provided by hospital outpatient departments and reduce patient access to vital health care services, AHA Executive Vice President Stacey Hughes said Sept. 20 during a panel discussion hosted by Politico.
“You can’t expect the same clinical outcomes, the same level of patient care, the same level of patient access when you pull the dollars out without having a complete conversation,” Hughes said during a panel featuring leaders from the American Benefits Council and the United States of Care.
The AHA has been pushing back against these so-called site-neutral payment proposals because they are based on an erroneous assumption that hospitals are overpaid for outpatient services provided to Medicare patients when in fact Medicare only pays hospitals 84 cents on the dollar for services provided to patients.
In addition, Hughes said all sites of care are not created equal, they do not provide equal levels of care, and should not be reimbursed in the same manner.
For example, hospital outpatient departments take care of sicker and more complicated patients and have to meet tougher regulatory requirements than other sites of care. In addition, hospitals provide communities with 24/7 access to care, maintain emergency standby service for natural and manmade disasters, neonatal and burn units, and trauma centers.
“All these things are intrinsic benefits to the community that you have to pay for,” Hughes said.