The National Association of Public Hospitals last week became the first hospital group to endorse the Clinton administration's healthcare reform bill.
"As partisan as healthcare reform is becoming, I think you have to declare one way or another," said Larry Gage, NAPH president. "We're a small group, and we need to be players. I just can't see sitting on the fence.
"In particular, the NAPH applauds such elements of the president's plan as universal and mandatory coverage and an emphasis on prevention and primary care," Mr. Gage said.
While the 100-member NAPH endorsed the plan, it has reservations about its intent to use Medicare and Medicaid reductions, particularly the elimination of disproportionate-share payments, before universal coverage is achieved.
"That needs to be changed," Mr. Gage said. "If it isn't, we probably would have a hard time supporting the final product. But we have so many commitments from so many people that we are sure we will have our concerns addressed."
Mr. Gage also questioned the level of funding for payment adjustments targeted to "essential community providers" as included in the Clinton bill.
"The safety-net hospitals are essential to the entire community, not just the poor, and should be funded that way," he said.