Healthcare Business News

Voters oppose Medicare cuts to hospitals: AHA poll

By Rich Daly
Posted: December 5, 2012 - 1:15 pm ET

More than two-thirds of voters oppose deficit-related Medicare and Medicaid cuts to hospitals, according to a hospital-funded survey (PDF). And the findings are likely to figure prominently in hospitals' Capitol Hill lobbying.

Sixty-nine percent of voters opposed proposals for $70 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid providers over the coming decade and 22% supported the cuts, according to the Public Opinion Strategies survey of 800 registered voters in the week after the presidential election.

“In some regard, it exposes a gap between what people on the policy side are looking at versus what people in the public are willing to accept,” said Richard Pollack, executive vice president for the American Hospital Association, which commissioned the poll.

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The $70 billion cut generally reflected reduced provider payments previously proposed by deficit-reduction panels that members of Congress and the Obama administration are considering as part of ongoing deficit-reduction discussions and talks to avoid end-of-the-year cuts, known as the fiscal cliff.

The poll also illustrated the challenge that hospital advocates face in convincing members of Congress to oppose specific cuts to them. About half of the poll respondents had no opinion about a proposed $1 billion in cuts from reducing payments for evaluation and management in hospital settings to the level provided for office-based physicians—even after the voters were provided descriptions of the issue.

“Obviously, we’re dealing with very complex issues and half the job of a lobbyist is being a teacher and being an objective teacher of what the policy implications are,” Pollack said about his discussions with members of Congress and their staffs, and for the evaluation and management issue, “that’s exactly what we find ourselves dealing with.”

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