Bergman: Protect Rural Hospitals, Medicaid DSH
Washington, May 18, 2023
Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI) recently joined Reps. Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Dan Crenshaw, (R-TX), Diana DeGette, (D-CO), and Michael Burgess (R-TX), along with 226 other colleagues, to send a letter to Speaker McCarthy and Democratic Leader Jeffries urging action to address pending cuts to Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments – a vital resource for ensuring patients in underserved communities maintain the essential healthcare services they rely on.
"Our hospitals, especially those serving rural communities, cannot continue to provide the necessary care for patients if this fiscal rug is pulled out from under them. It's imperative that we safeguard the vital Medicaid DSH assistance that our medical providers so desperately need to ensure the same caliber of care for all in our communities," Rep. Bergman stated.
The letter stated, in part, “Medicaid DSH payments are an important tool for hospitals that provide care in underserved communities, where they serve a disproportionate number of low-income and uninsured patients. In treating those that have nowhere else to turn, these hospitals incur significant uncompensated care 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. These payments support safety net hospitals in cities across the country and are also especially important to rural hospitals, which often face their own added financial burdens. Since 2013, Congress has recognized the critical need for Medicaid DSH payments by passing thirteen pieces of legislation delaying what would have been immediate cuts to the program. Most recently, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 delayed DSH reductions until FY 2024. On October 1st, safety net hospitals will face an $8 billion annual cut that is equivalent to more than two-thirds of annual federal DSH spending. These cuts would continue apace through FY 2027. Importantly, these cuts don’t impact states evenly. In fact, some states, according to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC), will face cuts of 90 percent of their current DSH allotments. Our nation's rural and urban safety net hospitals cannot sustain losses of this magnitude, leaving our constituents and communities without access to the medical care they depend on and need. We ask that you work to avert the scheduled reductions so our nation’s safety-net hospitals can continue to care for the most vulnerable in our communities.”
The letter also calls for consideration of H.R. 2665, the Supporting Safety Net Hospitals Act – a bipartisan bill to eliminate the FY24 and FY25 DSH fee cuts, which Rep. Bergman has cosponsored along with 102 other Members of Congress.
The full text of the letter is available here.