Congress urged to reject cuts that would hurt patients' access to care   02/26/2013
With automatic spending reductions set to begin Friday, hospital leaders today convened on Capitol Hill to express concern about the looming Medicare cuts and urge their legislators to protect payments for hospital care. Participating in the AHA Advocacy Day in person and via webcast, hospital leaders were briefed on the latest developments related to the Budget Control Act sequester, which would cut Medicare payments by 2% across the board effective April 1, and other approaching fiscal deadlines. AHA has expressed concern about the sequester's impact on hospitals, as well as proposals that would delay or replace certain parts of the sequester or reduce the deficit by further reducing Medicare or Medicaid payments to providers. "We can't take any more cuts to hospital payments," AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock told participants. After the briefing, hospital leaders met with lawmakers and their staffs to urge support for alternatives that represent real solutions to the deficit, not cuts that could jeopardize access to patient care.
Time publishes correction to medical billing article   02/26/2013
At the request of AHA, Time magazine today published a correction to the online version of its Feb. 20 article on medical bills. The piece asserted that uncompensated care data are based on prices when in fact these data are reported on the basis of costs not charges. "The original version of this article stated that the total annual amount of charity care provided by U.S. hospitals cost them less than half of 1% of their annual revenue," the correction states. "In fact, the uncompensated care hospitals provide, either through charity programs or because of patients failing to pay their debts, amounts to approximately 5% of their total revenue for 2010."
House panel examines Medicare benefit design   02/26/2013
The House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee today held a hearing on proposals to update and improve the Medicare fee-for-service benefit structure. Glen Hackbarth, chairman of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, testified on MedPAC's June recommendation that Congress replace the current benefit design with one that includes an out-of-pocket maximum; deductibles for Part A and B services; copayments that may vary by type of service and provider; secretarial authority to alter or eliminate cost sharing based on the value of services; no change in beneficiaries' aggregate cost-sharing liability; and an additional charge on supplemental insurance. Witness Mark Fendrick, M.D., director of the University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design, told the committee that benefit design should incorporate "clinical nuance," and Tricia Neuman, director of the Kaiser Family Foundation's Program on Medicare Policy, testified on the implications of possible changes for beneficiaries.