AHA, law­mak­ers to con­sider rais­ing Medi­care el­i­gi­bil­ity age

Modern Healthcare - - LATE NEWS -

Rais­ing the Medi­care el­i­gi­bil­ity age to 67 will be among a host of top­ics Amer­i­can Hos­pi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion mem­bers will dis­cuss with law­mak­ers this week dur­ing the group’s ad­vo­cacy meet­ing in Washington. “This is an idea that has been put for­ward by House Democrats, an idea put forth by the pres­i­dent,” said Tom Nick­els, AHA’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent of fed­eral re­la­tions. “So this is not an idea that doesn’t have a wide spec­trum of in­di­vid­u­als who are will­ing to con­sider it—not en­dorse it, but con­sider it.” Pres­i­dent Barack Obama ul­ti­mately did not in­clude a hike in the el­i­gi­bil­ity age in his deficit-re­duc­tion pro­posal last month. Some state hos­pi­tals as­so­ci­a­tions asked about the AHA’s strat­egy—those in Cal­i­for­nia, Delaware, Mary­land and New York—sup­port ex­plor­ing a change in el­i­gi­bil­ity rules, while oth­ers are less sure. “In the larger scheme of try­ing to re­form fed­eral ex­pen­di­tures and en­ti­tle­ment pol­icy, there was cer­tainly no move by any mem­ber of our del­e­ga­tion to take any­thing off the ta­ble,” said Wayne Smith, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Delaware Health­care As­so­ci­a­tion. The Illi­nois Hos­pi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion told AHA of­fi­cials in July that IHA had not made pub­lic an of­fi­cial stance on the mat­ter and would re­main silent un­til the group’s gov­ern­ing board rec­om­mended one, ac­cord­ing to Vice Pres­i­dent of Fed­eral Re­la­tions Kim­berly Parker. Ron Pol­lack, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the pa­tient ad­vo­cacy group Fam­i­lies USA, said the AHA “is try­ing to shift the fo­cus on pro­gram ben­e­fi­cia­ries rather than hos­pi­tal op­er­a­tions.” Pol­lack added that hos­pi­tals have “played a very help­ful role in try­ing to pro­tect the most vul­ner­a­ble in Amer­i­can so­ci­ety and, un­for­tu­nately, this is a sig­nif­i­cant step in the wrong di­rec­tion.”

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