AHA Responds to Senator Hatch's Proposed Medicare and Medicaid Reforms
Monday, March 4, 2013
by: VNAA Policy Team

Section: Public Policy and Advocacy

On February 15, the American Hospital Association (AHA) released a letter in response to Senator Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) proposals to reform the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Senator Hatch had sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to all Senators outlining five new proposals.  

Senate Democrats, while appreciative of Senator Hatch’s efforts to bring bi-partisan solutions to the table, remain convinced new revenues are needed to close loopholes and raise taxes before any discussion of cuts to Medicare or Medicaid are considered.  In terms of the legislative process, no legislation has been drafted or offered.     

In response to Senator Hatch’s request for input on his proposals, AHA supported the following concepts:

  • Eligibility: Adjust the Medicare eligibility age from the current age of 65 to 67.
  • Medigap: Limit t Medigap plans from covering initial out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Beneficiary Cost Sharing: Create a single combined deductible for Medicare Part A and B services, require uniform coinsurance and establish an annual catastrophic cap.
The Senator’s proposal on a per capita cap on Medicaid was an area where AHA voiced concerns noting: “If Medicaid coverage is not expanded and the government does not pay its fair share, hospitals will be forced to “cost-shift,” or pass along the difference to the privately insured, exacerbating a “hidden tax” on insured families…Medicaid already severely underpays providers, and beneficiaries report difficulty finding physicians who accept Medicaid patients.”
AHA did not comment on the competitive bidding proposal, which would allow health plans to bid against traditional fee-for-service Medicare to provide service to beneficiaries.

As noted in a recent Member Update, VNAA, and several of its Utah members, recently met with Senator Hatch’s congressional staff to discuss how hospice and home health services might be impacted. Of greatest concern is the uniform coinsurance proposal that would limit access to home health and hospice. VNAA is continuing to closely monitor this and other proposals related to beneficiary copays and cost sharing as well as consulting with its members through the Public Policy Council to consider all perspectives.

To read the American Hospital Association’s letter, please click here.

To read Senator Hatch’s Medicare and Medicaid proposals, please click here.
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