CHA provides members with full-time representation and advocacy at the federal level through our Washington, D.C. staff. Expert analysis and data tools are provided to members through CHA DataSuite, which includes a full suite of financial tools and reports to understand the impact of all proposed and final federal Medicare and Medicaid impacts to hospitals.
CHA President/CEO C. Duane Dauner was joined by 10 representatives of CHA member hospitals in Washington, D.C., Dec. 3 for the CHA and American Hospital Association hospital advocacy day. The group met with about half of the California Congressional delegation, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, and Sens. Boxer and Feinstein.
The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives yesterday passed legislation re-opening the government until Jan. 15 and raising the debt ceiling until Feb. 7. The legislation funds the government at current spending levels and requires the House and Senate to come together in a conference committee to agree on a longer-term budget. Current law requires deeper sequestration cuts beginning on Jan. 15, and the conference committee is expected to look for savings to avert or replace these cuts, leaving hospitals vulnerable in budget negotiations. CHA will continue to advocate against any cuts to hospitals as a piece of the long-term budget deal; members are encouraged to join CHA in Washington, D.C. for Advocacy Day on Oct. 29 to communicate this message to representatives face to face.
The vote was bipartisan in both houses, passing the Senate 81-18, with both of California’s senators voting yes. In the House, the vote was 285-144, including the entire Democratic delegation voting yes. California’s Republican representatives were split, with Reps. Calvert, Cook, Issa, McCarthy, McKeon, Gary Miller, Nunes and Valadao voting yes; and Reps. Campbell, Denham, Hunter, LaMalfa, McClintock, Rohrabacher and Royce voting no.
As Congress remains deadlocked in negotiations regarding a government funding bill for federal fiscal year (FFY) 2014, the threat of a government shutdown remains a possibility. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released a report detailing its plan for operations should Congress not reach a deal. The report says that “in the short term,” the Medicare program will largely continue without disruption, and that states will have funding for Medicaid on Oct. 1, due to the advanced appropriation enacted in the FFY 2013 legislation. Implementation of the Affordable Care Act, including exchanges set to open Oct. 1, is largely funded through mandatory spending and will continue despite a government shutdown. HHS will furlough about 52 percent of its employees, but activities related to the safety of human life and protection of property will continue.
Measures to curb federal spending by trimming Medicare and Medicaid payments are options in the current deficit reduction environment. Providers already face billions of dollars in Medicare andMedicaid payment cuts. Efforts to further cut Medicare and Medicaid payments to providers jeopardize access to high quality healthcare services for America’s seniors and the poor. True entitlement reform and approaches to change the healthcare delivery system are needed – not provider cuts.