Despite heavy lobbying by the Catholic Health Association, the American Hospital Association board will continue backing a proposal to have Medicare reimburse hospitals for paying taxes.
The decision by the AHA board of trustees came at last week's annual AHA federal relations meeting in Washington. The meeting drew more than 2,200 people, down from about 2,700 last year.
The CHA and the Federation of American Health Systems, which represents investor-owned hospitals, have fought over the reimbursement issue since early last year, when the proposed change first appeared in a Republican budget plan.
Under the GOP plan, hospitals would be compensated for taxes paid and other payments made in lieu of taxes. According to HCFA, it would result in an increase of more than $70 per discharge for investor-owned hospitals. Because the measure must not increase total Medicare payments, reimbursements for other hospitals would be reduced by about $5 per discharge. In total, $80 million in annual payments would be affected.
But in a letter to AHA officials, the CHA asked the AHA board to stay out of the fight.
"Quite frankly, we're surprised the AHA continues to actively support the proposal," William Cox, the CHA's executive vice president of government services, said in the letter. "Minimally, (the AHA) should be neutral, at least until the issue can be aired at the (regional policy boards) and board (of trustees)."
However, the AHA board moved to reaffirm its standing position in support of the change.
"Not-for-profit hospitals are paying into the AHA (political action committee) just so they can turn around and move to take $5 out of every discharge," Cox said.
An expected fight over the issue at last week's convention never materialized. AHA officials thought the CHA would raise the issue at a meeting of the AHA Hearing Committee, which listens to member concerns and takes them to the board. The CHA decided not to follow through with its protest because "it wouldn't do any good; the board had already met," Cox said.