Hospitals gear up for deficit battle


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The AHA's concerns include:

• Proposed cuts to the Graduate Medical Education program, which pays for residents with Medicare funds;

• Efforts to restrict — or even eliminate — state taxes on Medicaid providers that end up getting passed on to the federal government;

• Cuts to Medicare reimbursements to hospitals' bad debt;

• Reductions in Medicare funding for rural or small hospitals;

• Cuts to post-acute providers such as nursing homes; and

• Further Medicare and Medicaid payment reductions for hospital services. 

That doesn't mean the AHA favors the default 2 percent across-the-board reduction in Medicare rates that will kick in if the deficit supercommittee can't strike a deal.

According to a new TrippUmbach study commissioned by the AHA, the default 2 percent cut to Medicare payments would cost hospitals $41 billion between 2013 and 2021. The resultant "cutbacks and layoffs" would "ripple throughout the economy as hospitals and hospital employees reduce their spending on the goods and services provided by other businesses" and could result in 194,000 jobs lost by 2021.