Here we go again. The latest short-term spending bill keeping the federal government open will expire next Thursday. We continue to deal with federal governance by deadline dysfunction. And we all share the exasperation of seeing Congress focus only on the immediate deadline ahead while neglecting other important issues.
 
Meanwhile, House and Senate leaders are working on a spending deal to keep the government open. It’s likely to be yet another in a series of temporary efforts that will result in a continuing resolution on appropriations—the fifth one of this current fiscal year—as we enter the fifth month of the fiscal year.
 
We continue to urge that this “must do” legislation be a platform for enacting unfinished business that is important to the patients served by hospitals and health systems—just like the last version included an extension of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
 
Among other items, we urge Congress to delay Medicaid disproportionate share hospital cuts that could jeopardize access to care at hospitals serving high numbers of low-income individuals, and to extend Medicare adjustments that support access in rural communities.
 
At the same time, we must ensure that payment reductions for hospital services are not used to finance these provisions…and that any long-term deal that revises statutory budget caps to fund other priorities does not use Medicare and Medicaid as the piggy bank to pay for these policies.
 
Legislators need to be reminded that our patients and communities are depending on us more than ever before. Whether it is dealing with this year’s widespread flu epidemic or responding to train crashes, hurricanes, wildfires, mudslides, mass shootings, or the opioid epidemic…now is simply not the time to reduce resources for organizations that provide essential public services.
 
Please take the opportunity to send these messages to your legislators in the coming week. And know that the Coalition to Protect America’s Health Care is on the air to reinforce these messages, as well.