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TV ad urges Congress to prevent billions in cuts to hospitals


The 30-second spot, which is slated to appear nationally starting today, warns that reduced federal aid will hurt patient care.

Healthcare organizations have been pressing Congress to avert cuts of billions of dollars to hospitals, and now they’re taking their case to the airwaves.

The Coalition to Protect America’s Health Care has produced a new television ad to lay out the stakes, warning that the cuts would have a direct impact on patient care. The ads are slated to begin airing nationally today.

“America’s hospitals have been pushed to the brink by broken supply chains, workforce shortages, and high inflation,” the ad states.

The 30-second ad warns that come in Congress are looking to cut “hundreds of billions” in aid to hospitals.

The spot points out that more than 100 rural hospitals have closed in the past 10 years. (Here's the ad; the story continues below.)

Health systems have been pushing back against proposals in Congress for "site-neutral" policies, which would mean hospital outpatient departments and physicians offices would be reimbursed at the same rate.

Proponents say such policies would save billions of dollars in the Medicare program, but hospitals say they'd be badly hurt by such policies, especially since many facilities are struggling financially. Hospitals say that reducing reimbursement rates to their outpatient facilities could hurt patient access to care.

Hospitals say that their outpatient clinics treat a higher percentage of patients from underserved communities and patients with more serious medical conditions. Hospitals cite greater licensing and regulatory requirements and the need to maintain capacity in emergencies.

Hospitals have complained that the federal government’s reimbursements aren’t keeping pace with their higher costs for labor and supplies. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services plan to give hospitals a 3.1% increase in aid for inpatient care in 2024, which health systems say is inadequate.

Hospitals have been lobbying lawmakers to prevent planned cuts of billions in Medicaid to hospitals. The cuts are slated to take effect Oct. 1. Unless Congress acts,  Medicaid’s disproportionate share hospital (DSH) program is slated to be cut by $8 billion next month. The program, which is designed to assist hospitals with a high portion of Medicaid patients, is supposed to be cut by $8 billion annually through 2027.

There have been bipartisan efforts to avert those cuts to the Medicaid DSH program, and lawmakers

“Congress, protect patient access to 24/7 hospital care,” the ad concludes.

In addition to airing on television nationally, the ad will also be posted on social media platforms, the coalition said.

Industry analysts note that hospitals are faring a bit better than they did in 2022, which was a terrible year financially for many hospitals.

Still, hospital industry analysts such as Fitch Ratings have said that many hospitals continue to have weak operating margins, which will likely continue into 2024. The gap is widening between hospitals with stronger financial performance and those who are struggling, according to Kaufman Hall, a healthcare research firm.

Founded in 2000, the coalition says it represents more than 5,000 hospitals.

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