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Hospitals, nurses urge super committee to spare Medicare

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | October 17, 2011
Hospitals and nurses groups urged a powerful congressional budget-cutting committee to spare Medicare and Medicaid from further cuts, as they could lead to the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.

In a letter sent Monday to the co-chairs of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, the American Hospital Association and the American Nurses Association asked the lawmakers to hold off on further cuts to the government-run health programs. The AHA and the ANA also implied that if a worst-case scenario 2 percent cut to Medicare programs comes to pass, nearly 200,000 jobs could be lost.

"While we recognize the serious fiscal pressures facing our nation, we feel it is counterproductive to target hospitals and the health care field for significant spending reductions at a time when we are providing economic stability and job growth in a sluggish economy," the groups' heads wrote in the letter.
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The bipartisan 12-member congressional panel, known as the super committee, is tasked with coming up with a proposal to slash $1.2 trillion from the deficit over the next 10 years. As a result of measures introduced in August legislation to raise the debt ceiling, if the committee fails to present a proposal that's approved by Congress on Dec. 23, an across-the-board $1.2 trillion cut will be triggered, including a 2 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursements to providers, such as hospitals, and insurers.

In their letter, the AHA and ANA cite a September analysis by Tripp Umbach, a Pittsburgh consulting group, that estimates 194,000 nursing and hospital jobs would be lost by 2021 if the 2 percent Medicare cut goes into effect. According to the Tripp Umbach projections, the cut would result in $41 billion in payment losses for hospitals over the lifetime of the cuts.

"The goods and services hospitals and hospital workers purchase from other businesses create additional jobs and economic value for the larger community," the groups write. "When considering this 'ripple effect,' hospitals can account for up to 12 percent of employment regionally, and support one in 10 jobs nationwide."

The super committee, chaired by Sen. Patricia Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), is scheduled to present its budget proposals by Thanksgiving.


Steve Arey

Healthcare Reform

October 20, 2011 02:46

The only real thing that is needed for Healthcare Reform is to create a Healthcare Waste, Fraud and Abuse police department.
I can give them lots of places to start, such as the nursing homes and prescription drug markets.

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