Medicaid cuts will hurt most-vulnerable citizens

Access to care for all hospital patients jeopardized by President's proposed budget cuts

7 February 2005

HARRISBURG, Pa, USA. Responding to the President's 2005-2006 budget plan, The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) today said that the proposed $60 billion in Medicaid reductions over ten years shifts the burden of deficit reduction to Pennsylvania's most vulnerable citizens.

"These cuts could threaten the integrity of this essential safety net health care program for senior citizens, children, people with disabilities, and low-income families," said HAP President and CEO Carolyn F. Scanlan. "While the Bush administration's focus on increasing insurance coverage for the poor is laudable, cutting reimbursements to hospitals will have the unintended consequence of limiting access to health care - for all patients."

Scanlan also expressed concern about cuts to children's graduate medical education, rural health care programs, and bioterrorism preparedness.

Scanlan praised the President for his $125 million funding proposal for health information technology initiatives, but urged consideration of higher funding to reflect the critical importance of the issue to patient safety and quality. Scanlan serves on the board of the National Alliance for Health Information Technology.

"While the President has not targeted Medicare for reductions, his shift of the cuts to Medicaid will have the same impact on our hospitals and patients," Scanlan said. "This is not sound health care policy, and hospitals will use the upcoming budget debate to advocate for a strategy that preserves patient access to care - and the financial stability of hospitals - over the long term."

Medicaid reimbursements to Pennsylvania hospitals are substantially lower than the actual costs of care provided - approximately 75 percent of inpatient costs and 50 percent or less of outpatient costs.

"Coupled with expected drastic Medicaid cuts in the upcoming Pennsylvania budget proposal, the reduced payments from Washington are particularly onerous," Scanlan said.

HAP is a statewide membership services organization that advocates for nearly 250 Pennsylvania acute and specialty care, primary care, subacute care, long-term care, home health, and hospice providers, as well as the patients and communities they serve. Additional information about HAP is available online at http://www.haponline.org/.

Source: The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania

CONTACT: Roger H. Baumgarten, Director, Media Relations, The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, +1-717-561-5342, Cell: +1-717-329-9537, rbaumgarten@haponline.org

Website: http://www.haponline.org/

The full State of the Union address: www.whitehouse.gov/stateoftheunion/2005/index.html


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