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Essential Hospitals Urge Quick Action on COVID-19, Funding Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Statement attributable to:
Beth Feldpush, DrPH
Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy
America’s Essential Hospitals

WASHINGTON — Today’s consolidated appropriations package offers essential hospitals urgently needed relief from the heavy costs of COVID-19 and looming federal payment cuts, and it would put important consumer protections in place for patients. We urge Congress to swiftly approve this package.

We thank lawmakers for using this legislation to avert disastrous Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payment cuts, including by eliminating a $4 billion cut in fiscal year 2021 and delaying subsequent reductions for two additional years. These cuts would destabilize essential hospitals and threaten access to care as they grapple with the ongoing and intense public health crisis.

Essential hospitals welcome the legislation’s measures to ease the financial pressures of the pandemic, including by extending the suspension of the 2 percent Medicare sequester cut, adding $3 billion to the Provider Relief Fund, and allowing public hospitals to claim the COVID-19 employee retention tax credit. We also applaud provisions to fund 1,000 new graduate medical education residency slots and other steps to invest in the future physician workforce.

This bill takes a balanced approach to achieving another important goal: protecting patients from surprise medical bills. The process it would use to determine the appropriate level of payment for out-of-network care appropriately considers the distinguishing features of essential hospitals, including their complex patients, broader scope of services, and teaching mission.

We will carefully examine the bill’s Medicaid supplemental payment transparency policies. We support transparency that reflects an appropriate balance with state flexibility and does not burden hospitals. We look forward to working with the administration to make sure transparency rules align with these goals.

While this bill provides significant near-term relief for hospitals on the front lines of COVID-19, more help is needed. We will work with congressional leaders to develop technical fixes and quickly address the unintended consequences of policies that will reduce Medicaid DSH payments to essential hospitals.

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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 more than 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.

Contact:
Carl Graziano
cgraziano@essentialhospitals.org
202.585.0102

 

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