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posted: 3/18/2013 5:00 AM

Reimbursements to hospitals crucial

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Medicare reimbursements to hospital will be cut by 2 percent over nine years under sequestration triggered in the Budget Control Act of 2011. Under sequestration, Metropolitan Chicago hospitals alone could see $1.2 billion in cuts. These cuts to our health care safety net could reduce access to care and negatively impact our region's economy. Moreover, as Congress now turns to pass a continuing resolution to continue funding the federal government, many in Congress may not support a measure without offsetting spending cuts. This could put Medicare and Medicaid at risk for additional cuts.

Such cuts could threaten access to care for our region's most vulnerable patient populations, including children and the elderly, disabled and impoverished. This draconian "piling-on" effect could force many hospitals that are already struggling (like the one in five local hospitals currently operating in the red) to limit services, reduce staff and cut programs. Shifting the cost of care to our region's most vulnerable patient populations is not the answer.

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The impact of sequestration and further budget cuts goes beyond the critical issue of access to care and could have a devastating effect on hospitals' ability to continue serving as economic engines for their communities. In Illinois, sequestration will likely lead to the loss of more than 19,500 health care and other jobs this year alone, and an additional 30,000 jobs by 2021. As Washington works to find further solutions to our nation's fiscal problems, we must remind our elected officials that additional reductions to Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements for hospital care are not the answer.

Kevin Scanlan

President/CEO

Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council

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