Print

Engel, Olson lead 300 Members of Congress in Bipartisan Effort to Preserve Lifeline for Safety-Net Hospitals

Engel, Olson lead 300 Members of Congress in Bipartisan Effort to Preserve Lifeline for Safety-Net Hospitals

Washington, D.C.—Representatives Eliot L. Engel (NY-16) and Pete Olson (TX-22) co-lead a bipartisan letter to Congressional leaders requesting a delay to Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) cuts.

The letter, signed by 300 Members of Congress, calls for a delay to cuts for Medicaid DSH payments for at least two years, or until a more sustainable, permanent solution is reached. The delay must be implemented before the scheduled cuts go into effect on October 1st, 2019. Medicaid DSH payments help sustain hospitals that serve a disproportionate number of low-income and uninsured patients. In doing so, these hospitals incur tremendous uncompensated costs. Medicaid DSH payments help make up for those losses and, in turn, allow hospitals to keep their doors open and continue caring for the most vulnerable among us.

“Medicaid is a critical lifeline for nearly a third of New Yorkers. Just as important are the safety-net hospitals that deliver quality care and serve them,” Rep. Eliot Engel said. “These hospitals already operate on slim margins. If Medicaid DSH cuts were implemented, it would have a devasting impact on these critical facilities, potentially leading many to close their doors. We have a moral imperative to ensure that doesn’t happen. I thank my colleague Rep. Olson for working with me across the aisle to help prevent these harmful cuts.”

“The success of community hospitals in Texas and across America is crucial for folks who rely on Medicaid,” Rep. Pete Olson said. “The Medicaid DSH program plays a critical role in ensuring quality care for low income families. Any cut to this program would have an immediate and harmful impact on our country’s most vulnerable citizens, including children, the elderly and the disabled. The proposed cuts could cause community hospitals to close their doors, creating an immediate void for essential healthcare. I will continue to fight for this important safeguard for our nation’s hospitals and patients. I thank my colleague, Rep. Engel, for working with me to protect patients.”

“We applaud Rep. Engel’s long-standing leadership to protect our hospitals and the vulnerable patients they serve,” said HANYS President Bea Grause, RN, JD. “We are grateful that once again Rep. Engel and nearly the entire New York congressional delegation have led this bipartisan fight to protect New York hospitals and oppose these misguided cuts to federal Medicaid DSH funding.  We urge Congressional leaders to heed the voices of over 300 U.S. House members and move quickly to delay these devastating Medicaid DSH cuts.”

“Medicaid DSH is an essential program for the nation’s safety net hospitals, and securing a delay of the cuts is vital to their health and well-being,” said Greater New York Hospital Association President Kenneth E. Raske. “New York’s hospital community is grateful to Representatives Engel and Olson for their leadership on this critically important issue.”

“The Medicaid DSH program has been critical in supporting hospitals that care for our nation’s most vulnerable members of society, including children, the disabled and the elderly,” said Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association. “The AHA is committed to working with Congress to continue to stop the harmful Medicaid DSH cuts that could threaten local access to care. We thank Representatives Engel and Olson for leading this strong, bipartisan effort to postpone the cuts for at least an additional two years.”

“The financial viability of children’s hospitals is strikingly tied to Medicaid,” explained Mark Wietecha, president and CEO of Children’s Hospital Association. “Our high reliance on Medicaid reflects the fact that Medicaid is the largest source of health insurance for children nationally, and DSH payments are essential to addressing Medicaid underpayment. We thank Reps. Engel and Olson for leading this bipartisan effort helping children’s hospitals to continue caring for all children and families, and advancing the pediatric research, education and community service supporting the future of the country."

“Medicaid DSH funding is vital to our hospitals and their patients. Losing a third of that support virtually overnight would jeopardize access to care in communities across the country. We thank Representatives Engel and Olson, and all their colleagues who joined them on this letter, for recognizing the urgency of this threat,” said Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH, President and CEO of America’s Essential Hospitals.

Text of the letter to Congressional leaders can be found below:

 

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi                                                 The Honorable Kevin McCarthy

Speaker of the House                                                             Republican Leader

U.S. House of Representatives                                              U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515                                                       Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy:

We write to express our concern regarding the impact of impending cuts to Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments, scheduled to take effect on October 1, 2019. Medicaid DSH payments allow hospitals nationwide to treat our most vulnerable Americans. We urge you to take action to delay these cuts for at least two years.

In 1985, President Ronald Reagan and Congress created Medicaid DSH payments to sustain hospitals that serve a disproportionate number of low-income and uninsured patients. In treating those who have nowhere else to turn, these hospitals incur uncompensated costs. Furthermore, these same hospitals typically operate on very narrow, or even negative, margins. Medicaid DSH payments allow them to continue serving our constituents and communities. Medicaid DSH payments not only support hospitals in cities across the country, these payments are also especially important to rural hospitals, which often face added financial burdens.

Since 2013, Congress has recognized the importance of Medicaid DSH payments by delaying cuts to the program four different times, most recently The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 delayed the start of the reductions until FY 2020.

Should Congress fail to delay the cuts scheduled to begin on October 1, safety net hospitals will face a financial shortfall of $4 billion in FY 2020. These cuts will grow to $8 billion in FY 2021.

Our nation’s hospitals cannot sustain losses of this magnitude. Institutions will be forced to shutter, leaving our constituents and communities without a vital safeguard. 

Until a more sustainable, permanent solution is reached, we ask that you work to delay these cuts for at least two fiscal years. This delay will ensure that hospitals can continue to care for the most vulnerable in our communities.  

Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to your response.