Window to Washington

An inside-the-beltway look at the legislative and regulatory process.

Medicare warnings: Not just for Democrats anymore

By Rich Daly
12 pm, May. 26

It's not just Democrats who may view opposition to proposed Medicare cuts in a budget deal as a potentially winning issue. Hospitals will soon jump into the deficit fray with an ad (PDF) to run in a couple inside-the-beltway publications over the next three weeks. The ad calls for Congress to look elsewhere for savings as it considers ways to reduce historic and growing budget deficits.

The highest-profile deficit-reduction plan—and the only one to advance legislatively—is the Republican-backed plan that passed the House of Representatives on April 15. That budget plan would reduce Medicare and Medicaid spending, which would in turn reduce hospital income, as a way to scale back future federal deficits.

Democratic campaign ads for weeks have prominently featured attacks on the GOP plan for its expected impact on Medicare. Some leading Democrats attributed concerns raised by those ads with their candidate's victory in a May 24 special election in a New York district that leaned Republican.

The hospital ad is more widely aimed at any and all deficit-reduction plans that include cuts to Medicare or Medicaid and includes the tag line: “No more cuts to hospital care.” It also includes the oft-repeated point of many hospital executives in recent weeks that those facilities already agreed to $155 billion in cuts over 10 years as part of the 2010 federal healthcare law. They argue that those previously agreed-to cuts will leave them unable to absorb more spending reductions as part of a deficit deal. The ad is sponsored by the American Hospital Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Federation of American Hospitals, the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems, the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, and VHA.

You can now follow Rich Daly on Twitter @mhrdaly.

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