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Statement on House Passage of 21st Century Cures

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Statement attributable to:
Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH
President and CEO
America’s Essential Hospitals

Essential hospitals thank House lawmakers for voting today to protect access to health care services for vulnerable patients and underserved communities.

Today’s vote to account for patients’ social and economic status in the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP) moves us closer to ensuring hospitals keep the resources they need to help their patients overcome homelessness, hunger, and other obstacles to good health.

These obstacles fall largely outside a hospital’s control and have the greatest impact on essential hospitals, which fill a safety net role in their community and care for the nation’s most disadvantaged people. The research is clear that the HRRP disproportionately penalizes essential hospitals and, in turn, their patients and communities.

Adjusting the HRRP for the challenges vulnerable patients face puts essential hospitals on a level playing field when evaluating readmission rates. It also can break a vicious circle in which penalties further deplete the already scarce resources essential hospitals have to reduce readmissions. In such cases, the HRRP worsens, rather than fixes, the problem.

America’s Essential Hospitals looks forward to swift Senate consideration and passage of the 21st Century Cures legislation and risk adjustment for the HRRP. We thank our champions on this issue, Reps. Jim Renacci (R-OH) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Rob Portman (R-OH). Their tireless efforts paved the way for the language in the Cures bill.

America’s Essential Hospitals also thanks the House for approving some relief from the onerous payment cuts to hospital outpatient departments (HOPDs) in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. Allowing an exemption for new, off-campus HOPDs already under development as of the law’s enactment date will help ease the threat to health care access in many communities.

We hope to make further progress toward reducing the damage these cuts will cause, especially in the nation’s health care deserts, where vulnerable people already face severe shortages of health care services.

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About America’s Essential Hospitals
America’s Essential Hospitals is the leading association and champion for hospitals and health systems dedicated to high-quality care for all, including the most vulnerable. Since 1981, America’s Essential Hospitals has initiated, advanced, and preserved programs and policies that help these hospitals ensure access to care. We support members with advocacy, policy development, research, and education.

Our nearly 275 members are vital to their communities, providing primary care through trauma care, disaster response, health professional training, research, public health programs, and other services. They innovate and adapt to lead the broader health care community toward more effective and efficient care.

Contact:
Carl Graziano
cgraziano@essentialhospitals.org
202.585.0102

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