Healthcare lobbyists are expected to protect the turf of their members, but it's becoming tiresome to hear the lame defense that not all hospitals are earning double-digit profits from Medicare.
The fact is, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has reported consistently solid hospital inpatient margins, peaking at a record 16.1% in 1997 and expected to top 15% this year.
While the lobbyists continue to counter the numbers with dazzling double talk, they simply aren't being taken seriously.
HCFA could solve many problems by creating a system that steers Medicare patients to preferred providers that meet quality and cost standards. That could stop some of the trade association bellyaching, and it could reward those hospitals that are accountable and serious about providing value to patients and to the government.