Essential hospitals rely on Medicare as a vital funding source for about a quarter of their patients. A robust Medicare program ensures these patients — elderly, medically frail, and often economically vulnerable — can access the services they need.

Congress must carefully consider the potential harm to these patients and their hospitals that could result from Medicare spending reductions to meet budget goals. Recent funding cuts, such as a 2015 law that dramatically reduces Medicare payments to off-campus hospital outpatient departments, will worsen access in already underserved communities and ultimately raise health care costs.

Medicare Covers Nearly One-Third of Essential Hospitals’ Inpatients

Source: Essential Data; Our Hospitals, Our Patients. 2018

Likewise, Medicare value-based payment programs can disproportionately penalize hospitals that serve large numbers of vulnerable people – essential hospitals. In these programs, we must account for socioeconomic barriers that lie outside a hospital’s control and that can prevent successful outcomes, creating a vicious circle that reduces the very support needed to improve care.

A strong Medicare program is key to much of the work essential hospitals do for their patients and communities. We must ensure Medicare maintains and enhances support for the many services essential hospitals provide beyond their core commitment to vulnerable patients, including health care workforce training, care coordination, and telehealth.