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Must-do Health Care Priorities for Congress

By Rick Pollack
September 15, 2017

Today, Washington’s focus – and the media headlines – have begun to shift to matters like tax reform, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an infrastructure package, and relief for the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. However, several key issues of great importance to hospitals and health systems are still at stake as we approach the end of the federal fiscal year.

Many key policy issues that are vital to ensuring that patients continue to receive access to care need to be renewed, funded, or extended before the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30. And because Congress and President Trump already reached a deal to keep the government open and increase the debt limit until mid-December, it will also be a challenge to find a “must do” legislative vehicle as a platform to pass the priorities that are important to us – but we are pushing nonetheless to fund these programs.

Those priorities include: Securing funding for the cost-sharing reductions, or CSRs, that help stabilize the Health Insurance Marketplaces;

Extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, to protect the nearly 9 million children who depend on it;

Preventing cuts to essential Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital funding that provides financial assistance to help hospitals care for the poor, elderly, and disabled;

Extending critical rural programs and policies to help ensure care continues in rural hospitals for the roughly 57 million people who live in rural America;

And asking Congress to urge the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to withdraw its harmful proposal of drastic cuts to payments for drugs acquired under the 340B drug pricing program. This program helps hospitals to help patients who cannot afford their prescriptions.

Topic: Advocacy and Public Policy
Tags: Medicare, rural, Critical Access Hospitals, advocacy, Medicaid

Richard J. (Rick) Pollack is the President and CEO of the American Hospital Association.

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