AHA Statement on President’s Budget

 

Rick Pollack

AHA President and CEO

February 12, 2018

 

America’s hospitals and health systems believe that the federal budget should not weaken our national commitment to provide access to quality hospital and health system services that provide a lifeline for our patients and communities.   

For example, we are opposed to the proposed significant cuts to teaching hospitals. These hospitals provide around the clock services not available anywhere else, and train future physicians who will care for our nation’s seniors. In addition, this proposal contains troubling reductions to assistance to hospitals that help defray some of the costs of caring for low-income seniors. We are equally troubled by the proposal to modify uncompensated care payments as part of the Medicare disproportionate share hospital (DSH) program. These hospitals serve large low-income populations and face substantial financial pressure.

We also strongly oppose any proposals to reduce payment for services provided to Medicare patients in the outpatient setting. Hospital-based facilities provide access to critical services that are not otherwise available in the community and treat patients with very severe conditions. In addition, hospitals need to have emergency stand-by capacity yet have a myriad of regulatory requirements imposed on them. We also object to the implementation of a new payment system for post-acute care providers such as long-term care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, skilled nursing facilities and home health agencies that makes staggering cuts to payments for these specialized services.

Unfortunately, this budget proposal would weaken the important safety net that Medicaid offers for millions of Americans who rely on the program for their health care needs. Access to care for vulnerable, low-income people including the elderly, disabled, children and veterans could be jeopardized by making large reductions in the program.

We are encouraged by the Administration’s willingness to tackle skyrocketing drug costs – a heavy burden borne by America’s hospitals and the patients we serve. However, we are opposed to the Administration’s continued overreach regarding their authority over the 340B program, which requires drug companies to provide discounts to hospitals that serve communities with vulnerable patients. We encourage the Administration to adopt many of the proposals we have offered to lower drug costs.

We also support the Administration’s goal to address America’s infrastructure and are pleased to see it included in the budget, with specific attention to improving rural broadband and the importance to communities of private activity bonds. Infrastructure investments also are needed to help hospitals and health systems meet the needs of their communities, strengthen the capacity for emergency preparedness and response, and expand the digital infrastructure for health care.

Contacts: Marie Johnson, (202) 626-2351 mjohnson@aha.org

                 Colin Milligan, (202) 638-5491 cmilligan@aha.org

 

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