Congress last week took the unprecedented step of raiding Medicare to pay for non-health care spending (see story that begins on page 1). Lawmakers did it by passing legislation to repeal a cut to the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for younger military retirees enacted less than two months ago.
They pay for it by extending the sequestration cuts to mandatory spending, including Medicare, for another year, until 2024. That’s the second time Congress agreed to extend the sequester’s cut to Medicare in recent months. The cut to the COLA for veterans was part of December’s congressional budget agreement designed to save billions. Its restoration shows what strong grassroots action and outraged constituents can accomplish.
Veterans deserve appropriate benefits for their brave service – but using the Medicare program as a piggy bank to fund other programs is totally unacceptable. Hospitals have endured cut after cut in federal funding – more than $113 billion over the past three years (not counting reductions due to the Affordable Care Act) at a time of enormous change and challenges to the field.
Will Congress cut hospital payments again when it addresses the physician payment fix and Medicare extenders that expire on March 31? Don’t let that happen! You can make a difference by expressing your outrage to your lawmakers. Join us in Washington for one of our upcoming Advocacy Day meetings. Several are scheduled for next month as we head toward that critical March 31 deadline. Learn more by clicking on the AHA Advocacy Days icon at www.aha. org.
Patient Safety Awareness Week
March 2 – 8 is “Patient Safety Awareness Week,” when the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) encourages hospitals and other health care organizations to host local activities promoting awareness of the need to continually improve patient safety and to involve the public in those improvement efforts. This year’s theme, “Navigate Your Health … Safely,” focuses on the need for patients to become more involved in their health care, and to work with their caregivers to build partnerships for safer care. National Patient Safety Awareness Week is an opportunity for you to engage your patients and their families, consumers and the community in your efforts to improve safety. It’s also an important opportunity to raise awareness of the job you do every day to improve care and reduce the potential for harm. For more,” click on: http://tinyurl.com/o39e92f .