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The White House said Saturday that President Obama intended to pay for his health care overhaul partly by cutting more than $200 billion in expected reimbursements to hospitals over the next decade — a proposal that is likely to provoke a backlash from struggling medical institutions around the country.
But hospital administrators, already nervous about lowered reimbursements, are likely to oppose such cuts. Less than 24 hours before Mr. Obama’s radio address, the president of the American Hospital Association, Richard J. Umbdenstock, issued a call to action to his members across the country, warning that Congress might cut provider payments.
Mr. Umbdenstock asked hospitals to “push back” against the proposed cuts. “Payment cuts are not reform,” he said, denouncing “blunt cuts that cripple hospitals’ ability to do better for their patients.” Dr. Patricia A. Gabow, chief executive of the Denver Health and Hospital Authority, which operates a 477-bed public hospital, said it would be “pretty risky” for Congress to cut payments to safety-net hospitals before knowing whether new legislation actually reduced the uncompensated care they must provide.
Kenneth E. Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, said the proposed cuts could be “devastating to hospitals that serve inner-city communities.”
Mr. Raske pointed out that none of the major proposals in Congress would provide health insurance to illegal immigrants, and many of them would still be unable to pay their hospital bills. In addition, he said, the federal payments will still be needed because “Medicaid woefully underpays for outpatient clinics” and other services in some states, including New York.
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