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healthcare financing

The Republican House is making few friends outside the tea party and Wall Street, but their latest actions have created an actual enemy for them in the health care sector.
Hospitals are reigniting a battle with House Republicans that grew bitter last month after the GOP pushed to offset its payroll tax cut package with deep cuts to hospital payments under Medicare. The undercurrents of this fight are deepening fissures between hospitals and Republicans over the passage and future of the Affordable Care Act.

The American Hospital Association, the industry’s top lobbying group, on Friday issued an action alert—provided to TPM by a source—to its roughly 40,000 members, mobilizing them against some $14 billion in cuts pushed by the House GOP to hospital bad debt payments and outpatient services to help fund a longer payroll tax cut, unemployment insurance and a two-year Medicare doc fix. A hospital source told TPM the cuts are very much in play. [...]

After the GOP bill was unveiled in December, AHA and other hospital advocacy groups, shocked at the magnitude of the cuts, immediately pushed back and embarked on an ad campaign casting the prospective reductions as ominous for seniors and hospital care.

“We are deeply disappointed in the plan submitted by House Republicans today that would cut more than $17 billion in payment for hospital care,” AHA president Rich Umbdenstock said at the time. “This misguided plan jeopardizes access to hospital care and will mean fewer nurses, longer waits for emergency care and less access to new treatments.”

In a rare move, Republicans publicly fired back at the industry group. A press release titled “Facts Are Stubborn Things” from by Ways & Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) mocked hospital lobbyists for allegedly overstating the impact of the cuts—and, here’s where it gets interesting, bashed hospitals for supporting the deeper cuts in the Affordable Care Act.

AHA support for the Affordable Care Act, even though they face potential cuts as Medicare is transitioned away from reimbursing for quantity to paying for outcomes, is offset by the expansion of coverage to the previously uninsured, and thus a whole new huge customer base. But the GOP is in a vindictive mood against the hospitals for supporting the ACA, and will likely continue to try to push these massive cuts.

So, to recap, the Republican House has pissed off physicians by playing chicken with the Medicare "doc fix," the potential 27 percent cut physicians face in Medicare reimbursements if the GOP doesn't compromise. They have pissed off Medicare recipients who face the potential of having to find a new doctor when their doctor stops taking Medicare patients because they're not being adequately reimbursed. Now they've made an enemy of the hospitals. Quite a roll they're on.

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