Hospitals anxiously await Obama’s budget proposal
President Barack Obama is scheduled to release his 2015 budget Tuesday and the nation’s hospitals are once again nervous about cuts to their federal payments.
Even though Congress and the president recently agreed to a two-year budget deal, healthcare providers are taking nothing for granted.
In a letter last week, American Hospital Association President and CEO Richard Umbdenstock implored Obama to protect beneficiaries by not proposing Medicare cuts. Since 2010, hospitals have seen payment reductions upwards of $117 billion, including more than $58 billion in Medicare sequestration cuts, according to Umbdenstock.
“Hospitals also continue to absorb the difference between what it costs to provide care to Medicare beneficiaries and the reimbursement that Medicare provides,” Umbdenstock wrote. “In addition, the expansion of insurance coverage envisioned in the Affordable Care Act has not yet been realized.” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he expects House Republicans to release a fiscal 2015 budget, while Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) indicated the Senate won’t release one, given that congressional leaders inked a deal in December that settled the federal budget for both 2014 and 2015.
Though it seems there won’t be any budget agreements in this election year, there is still reason for hospitals to be leery, said Don Moran, an Arlington, Va.-based healthcare consultant. He said Obama needs funding for a Medicare sustainable growth-rate fix and benefit improvements. “So I don’t think it’s safe for providers to assume that the election cycle will save them from adverse proposals.”