The House passed on Tuesday on a stopgap government funding bill that includes a month delay of $4 billion in payment cuts to safety-net hospitals.
The bill, which passed by a vote of 231 to 192 and heads to the Senate, would delay the cuts to disproportionate share hospitals (DSH) until Dec. 21. The cuts, mandated under the Affordable Care Act, are expected to start on Nov. 22.
The bill also funds the federal government until Dec. 20. The Senate has until Thursday to pass the legislation to avoid a government shutdown.
If the Senate doesn’t act, then $4 billion in cuts would go into effect in federal fiscal year 2020 and $8 billion in cuts over the following five years.
State Medicaid programs are required to make DSH payments to hospitals that have a large Medicaid and uninsured patient population. The ACA sought to cut these payments because it expected lower rates of uninsured patients and lower levels of uncompensated care.
The cuts, however, have been delayed several times by Congress and have never gone into effect.
Hospital groups have been lobbying heavily to get another delay to the DSH cuts.
The stopgap funding bill would also extend payments for several programs including community health centers through Dec. 20 as funding is expected to expire at the end of this week.