Billions in federal uncompensated-care funds to be cut starting in October

From Modern Healthcare:

Starting this October, the CMS could begin cutting billions in federal funds meant to help hospitals with uncompensated-care costs.

The Affordable Care Act mandated that Medicaid disproportionate-share hospital funds be cut by $43 billion between fiscal 2018 and 2025. During negotiations over the ACA, hospital lobby groups acquiesced to the cuts under the assumption that expanded coverage from the healthcare reform law would reduce the need for the funding.

Congress delayed the cuts, which were supposed to start in 2014, after hospitals complained that increased patient traffic wasn’t outpacing uncompensated-care costs. The most recent extension expires Sept. 30.

The agency announced its plans in a proposed rulemaking Thursday, sending shudders through the hospital industry since the Medicaid DSH program provides essential financial assistance to hospitals that care for the nation’s most vulnerable populations including the poor, children, the disabled and the elderly, according to Tom Nickels, executive vice president of the American Hospital Association.

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