The second stage of the debt deal, which directs a 12-member congressional committee to specify $1.5 trillion in cuts by Nov. 23, has caused the greatest provider concerns. Their worry stems from the plan for a “trigger” of $1.2 trillion in 10-year cuts if the committee and Congress fail to meet the initial $1.5 trillion savings goal. Those trigger cuts, according to the White House, would include up to a 2% cut in Medicare provider payments.
Such cuts would ultimately impact patients, providers warned.
“When provider payments are cut to the bone, and they are already starting out with payments at 91 cents on each dollar of cost for hospitals, it's unfortunately the beneficiaries and the patients that lose access to critical services that hospitals can not provide when payments are cut further,” Beth Feldpush, vice president of policy and advocacy at the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, said in an interview.
Such cuts could overload emergency rooms, close trauma units and reduce patient access to the latest treatments, Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO American Hospital Association, said in a written statement.
Martin Arrick, Standard & Poor's managing director for not-for-profit healthcare, said hospitals already expect to be paid less in coming years under provisions of the 2010 health reform law.
Any cuts through a debt-ceiling compromise would add to those reductions, he said.