FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Statement attributable to:
Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH
President and CEO
America’s Essential Hospitals
WASHINGTON — Today, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce takes an important step toward saving essential hospitals from a fiscal cliff by approving legislation that would eliminate two years of deep cuts to Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) funding.
We thank Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Greg Walden (R-OR), and Michael Burgess (R-TX) for their leadership and commitment to essential hospitals and the vulnerable patients and communities they serve. Like us, they understand the lasting harm these cuts would inflict on access to vital health care services.
Looking ahead, we will continue to work with Congress to avert the damage the remaining DSH cuts would cause. Those cuts — as much as two-thirds of all program funding in later years — would devastate the nation’s health care safety net and undermine trauma care and other lifesaving services on which all people depend.
As we applaud the committee for protecting a vital funding source for essential hospitals, we also appreciate and share its desire to protect patients from surprise medical bills. But we disagree with one element of the committee’s approach: setting benchmark payment rates for out-of-network care. We believe providers and insurers should be free to negotiate equitable payments that sustain high-quality care. Arbitration, rather than restrictive benchmark rates, is a better approach for our hospitals.
As the House and Senate consider further action on these issues, we urge lawmakers to ensure access to care for underserved communities and vulnerable patients remains a priority.
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About America’s Essential Hospitals
America’s Essential Hospitals is the leading champion for hospitals and health systems dedicated to high-quality care for all, including the most vulnerable. We support our 300 members with advocacy, policy development, research, and education. Communities depend on essential hospitals to provide specialized, lifesaving services; train the health care workforce; advance public health and health equity; and coordinate care. Essential hospitals innovate and adapt to lead the way to more effective and efficient care. Learn more at essentialhospitals.org.