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On the Hill: Time Running Out to Fund Government, Avert DSH Cut

Congress is back in session and must work quickly to develop and pass a comprehensive legislative package to finance the government, prevent a devastating cut to Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments, and replenish funding for other health care programs before the end of the year. Without congressional action, the government on Dec. 12 will enter a shutdown and $4 billion will be cut from Medicaid DSH payments.

Media reports last week indicated leaders of the House and Senate committees on Appropriations reached a bipartisan agreement on top-line spending numbers for all of the fiscal year (FY) 2021 funding bills. This is an important first step in advancing legislation to fund the government for the remainder of the current fiscal year. However, leaders continue to disagree on other important provisions that would be in a comprehensive package.

America’s Essential Hospitals has urged congressional leaders to eliminate the scheduled $4 billion Medicaid DSH reductions for FY 2021, as well as the $8 billion cut scheduled for FY 2022.

COVID-19 Negotiations Stalled

Meanwhile, negotiations over another round of COVID-19 relief legislation remain deadlocked. Democratic and Republican leaders have not moved from their demands for a $2 trillion relief package versus a targeted $500 billion package, respectively.

At the same time, many House and Senate members have increased calls for congressional leaders to move COVID-19 legislation before Congress closes out the current session. It is unclear whether the renewed push by legislators amid the latest national surge in COVID-19 cases will pull negotiators back into discussions to find a deal.

America’s Essential Hospitals continues its calls for Congress to immediately pass legislation to address the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency and extend additional financial and policy relief to essential hospitals.

Health Care Hearings

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations will hold a Dec. 2 hearing at 10 am ET to examine COVID-19 vaccine safety and distribution.

Register Now for Virtual Postelection Policy Assembly

Be sure to register for the America’s Essential Hospitals virtual postelection Policy Assembly, Dec. 8–9.

Attendees at next week’s event will receive a full analysis of the November elections and learn how the outcomes of presidential and congressional races impact essential hospital advocacy priorities moving forward. Attendees also will have the opportunity to virtually engage their congressional delegations.

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About the Author

Nikki Hurt is a manager of legislative affairs at America's Essential Hospitals.

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