Congress passes short-term delay for $4B in DSH cuts as part of continuing resolution

Capitol building in Washington
Congress has passed a monthlong delay to $4 billion in disproportionate-share hospital cuts set to go into effect Friday. (rarrarorro/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

The Senate on Thursday gave hospitals a monthlong reprieve from $4 billion in cuts set to go into effect Friday.

The Senate passed a continuing resolution to fund the federal government on Thursday until Dec. 20. The legislation, which previously passed the House and now goes to President Donald Trump for his expected signature, includes a delay of cuts to disproportionate-share hospitals (DSHs) that cover a high population of the uninsured.

The $4 billion in cuts were mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They have never gone into effect, but hospitals were worried because of the Friday deadline.

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The continuing resolution delays the cuts until Dec. 20, upon which hospitals hope another yearlong delay is passed.

“Although this $4 billion reduction for fiscal year 2020 remains a significant threat, Congress’ passage of a second continuing resolution that delays it provides welcome relief for our hospitals,” said Bruce Siegel, president and CEO of America’s Essential Hospitals, which represents community and rural hospitals that would be hit hardest by the cuts.

The ACA mandated the cuts on the assumption that qualifying hospitals would serve a larger number of Medicaid patients due to the Medicaid expansion under the law.

Back in July, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed legislation to eliminate the DSH cuts for 2020 and 2022.