Hospital lobby asked to look for healthcare savings

Can hospitals really deliver healthcare savings? The Senate Finance Committee is asking them to deliver, specifically by finding ways to shave costs off of Medicare and Medicaid over the next decade. The idea is to pay for the cost of pending health reform. In theory, the idea is always to do so by improving care or efficiency, but in reality hospitals are likely to take it on the chin, as usual.

Finance Committee staffers are meeting with American Hospital Association reps, as well as people from the Federation of American  Hospitals and the Catholic Hospital Association to figure out just how to pull off this trick. The Finance staffers don't just want cuts, however, they want cuts that the Congressional Budget Office can actually measure.

Washington lobbyists outside of the hospital industry are betting that the cuts could add up to as much as $220 billion over the next 10 years. That's a nice number, though it doesn't do much to defray the $2 trillion promised by the parties to the recent cost-cutting announcement.

The downside of all of this is that with cost-cutting this extreme, there'd probably be Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement cuts, something that could do serious harm to an already shaky system. Not a pretty picture--finance people being asked to design their own noose.

To learn more about the discussion:
- read this Modern Healthcare piece (reg. req.)

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Are industry's promises to cut $2T smoke and mirrors?