The short-term budget agreement President Barack Obama signed last week creates yet another budget conference committee for lawmakers to negotiate a broader fiscal deal—along with heightening familiar worries for healthcare providers. Richard Pollack, executive vice president of the American Hospital Association, said that apart from reopening the government and increasing the nation's borrowing authority, nothing much has changed. The deal extended funding for the government at current levels through Jan. 15, meaning it retained the sequestration cuts that are hitting healthcare providers and insurers hard. “Between now and Dec. 13, there is this conference committee. If you look at the Ryan and Murray budgets, it's like Venus and Mars and hard to imagine they're going to come together on anything that's significant,” Pollack said, referring to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who will serve as the new panel's co-leaders. He fears that they will decide on a deficit-reduction package to mitigate the sequester that could hurt providers. The whole menu of options for healthcare reductions—including payments to critical-access hospitals, graduate medical education, the Medicaid provider tax, coding offsets and hospital bad debt—will again be in play. And prospects for a repeal of the Medicare sustainable growth-rate formula, which would cost about $139 billion over 10 years, are slim.
Late News: Despite budget deal, providers worry about cuts
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.