President Bushs new healthcare proposals are unworkable and have the potential to undermine hospitals, said Richard Umbdenstock, president of the American Hospital Association. Bush, who is expected to discuss his proposals more during the State of the Union address, is seeking to redirect disproportionate-share payments to the states as a way to subsidize private health-insurance purchases, among other insurance-based changes. Redirecting DSH payments essentially would pull the rug out from under safety net hospitals, Umbdenstock said. Even with DSH payments, about three-fourths of U.S. hospitals lost money on Medicaid in 2005, the AHA estimated. Bush also has proposed reforming the tax code to help individuals who buy their own insurance. That move would drive people to the unstable small-group market, raising out-of-pocket payments and resulting in a collections-and-bad-debt issue for hospitals, Umbdenstock said. John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, countered that if more people were insured, hospitals collections might go up and fewer patients would use emergency rooms for basic care. -- by Jennifer Lubell
AHA calls Bush plan unworkable
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