AHA STATEMENT ON THE CO-CHAIRS' PROPOSAL FROM THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY AND REFORM

Contact: Marie Watteau, (202) 626-2351 Matthew Fenwick, (312) 422-2820 Rich Umbdenstock President and CEO American Hospital Association November 10, 2010 Americans will have to make some tough choices to bring our fiscal house in order. That’s why we commend the commission co-chairs for taking up this challenging task. Today’s draft proposal, however, contains certain recommendations that could jeopardize hospital services for vulnerable patients and communities, particularly given that hospitals already face $155 billion in cuts as part of health reform. The draft suggests accelerating cuts to the DSH program that provides funding to hospitals that serve a large population of poor and uninsured patients. This vital program was already cut in the health reform legislation, and further reductions are not acceptable. The proposal also calls for all hospitals to be subject to the independent payment advisory board – a commission established by the reform bill to set Medicare payment rates. This flies in the face of congressional intent and removes lawmakers from decisions that will affect health care in their community. The proposal also calls for reductions in federal spending on graduate and indirect medical education at a time when physicians are in short supply. In addition, the draft recommends cutting the Medicare bad debt program that provides additional funding to hospitals that treat seniors who are unable to pay their bills. We also have concerns that the recommendation to cap national health expenditures does not take into account the real health care needs of Americans. At the same time, we do commend them for boldly proposing significant liability reform. We know that these recommendations will undergo further discussion, and offer our input to inform the dialogue as it proceeds. ###

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