The AHA and eight other national hospital groups today urged Congress to oppose the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act (H.R. 3630), which would cut more than $17 billion in hospital funding as part of a year-end tax and unemployment package that includes a two-year Medicare physician payment fix. "America's hospitals strongly support fixing Medicare's flawed physician payment system but not by further cutting resources for the hospital services upon which America's seniors depend," the hospital groups said in a letter to Congress. Introduced last week, H.R. 3630 would replace a 27.4% cut in physician payment rates set to begin Jan. 1 with a 1% increase in each of the next two years. To help offset the cost of the payment fix, the bill would cut payments for hospital outpatient evaluation and management services by $6.8 billion, and reduce Medicare reimbursement for bad debt from 70% to 55% over three years. It also would relax restrictions on physician self-referral to physician-owned hospitals, adding $300 million to the deficit; and extend the annual therapy cap to therapy provided in the outpatient hospital setting, reducing Medicare spending to hospitals by more than $2.5 billion over 10 years. "These potential cuts would be devastating to hospitals and the patients and communities they care for, especially at a time when hospitals are already absorbing cuts as a result of state reductions and recent legislative and regulatory changes, including the 2% cut called for under the sequestration included in the Budget Control Act of 2011," the letter states. The House is expected to vote on the bill tonight. President Obama has threatened to veto the bill.