The sequester’s 2% cut in Medicare funding will affect hospitals and health systems in different ways. Some may look to reduce staff or require longer waits for care. Others may need to defer purchases of new technology or delay capital improvements.
In all cases, the cuts make a tough financial environment even more challenging for the field. Regrettably, the sequester offers the latest example of the federal government’s reliance on arbitrarily ratcheting down provider payments to deal with concerns about health care spending, the deficit and related budget issues. But the sequester’s mechanism makes for poor budget – as well as health care – policy. Not only will blunt cuts to provider payments threaten vital patient care, a number of studies show they also are likely to have little impact on the growth of spending for health care services.
Rather than ratcheting down provider payments, a new AHA report, “Ensuring a Healthier Tomorrow,” proposes targeted reforms that can improve the way we deliver care, slow the growth in health care spending and build a stronger foundation for the future.
The report focuses on two interconnected strategies. The first seeks to promote and reward accountability to patients, their families and their communities. The second looks at how we can use limited health dollars in ways that eliminate inefficiency and improve the quality of care for patients.
Each strategy has six priority recommendations, and each recommendation has a list of suggested actions that providers, the government, insurers and employers, and consumers can take to strengthen our health care system and our nation’s finances. They provide a starting point for how – working together – we can all ensure a healthier tomorrow.
For more, see the column at right by AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock and highlights from the report that appear on these pages. And please view the entire report by visiting www.aha.org/healthiertomorrow.
Come to the Annual Meeting
The paths of some of America’s most influential political, policy, opinion and health care leaders will converge April 28–May 1 in Washington for theAHA 2013 Annual Membership Meeting. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to gain perspectives that are sure to help you navigate the maze of change ahead. Register now by clicking on the AHA 2013 Annual Membership Meeting icon at www.aha.org.