The Associated Press/San Jose Mercury News: "To all the
knotty issues involved in health care overhaul, add one more: The proposals in
Congress may threaten the funding and future of the nation's already-struggling
safety net hospitals."
Hospital leaders have been supportive of expanding coverage,
"but they worry financing the expansion will cause some teetering urban
hospitals to deteriorate and close." In particular, they worry about
"proposals to finance national reform that would reduce payments gradually
to hospitals handling more than their share of uninsured patients. One proposal
would reduce these funds called DSH payments for 'disproportionate share
hospital' by $20 billion, in three large annual chunks starting in
2017." About half of all hospitals nationwide receive DSH payments, a
small segment of which "provide most of the nation's charity care to the
"Lawmakers reason that when more Americans have
insurance, there will be less need for the payments. Instead, hospitals would
get paid by their newly covered patients' insurance plans.
A trigger in the House health care legislation would
start the cuts only after the nation achieved a significant increase in
insurance coverage. But critics say illegal immigrants, the mentally ill and
drug addicts will keep arriving at safety net hospitals without insurance.
Illegal immigrants will be ineligible for the expanded coverage proposed by
Congress" (Johnson, 9/3).
Source: Kaiser Health News