Hospitals Display Political Clout

Although hospitals wouldn’t call it a sure win, the fiscal cliff deal that avoided severe cuts to the industry  suggest that hospitals are still one of the most powerful lobbying groups on  Capitol Hill, Politico reported.
Provider groups convinced Congress to kill E/M  cuts
January 7, 2013  | By
Although hospitals wouldn’t call it a sure win, the fiscal cliff deal that avoided severe cuts to the industry  suggest that hospitals are still one of the most powerful lobbying groups on  Capitol Hill, Politico reported.
Looming budget cuts were set to hit  payments for outpatient services, graduate medical education and “bad debt.”  However, lobbying efforts by the American Hospital Association, the Federation  of American Hospitals and the Association of American Medical Colleges helped to  stave them off.
For instance, evaluation and management changes would  have paid hospitals and physician offices the same reimbursements under a site-neutral policy, recommended  by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC). Although it passed in the  House bill, the provision died in the Senate bill.
AHA, in  particular, fought the policy, saying it would cost hospitals billions. Although  MedPAC said patients shouldn’t have to pay more for a service in one setting  over another, AHA said the increased costs at hospitals goes toward providing  safety-net and emergency care.
In the end, E/M cuts didn’t make it  through the final deal.

Why? Hospitals frequently are the largest employers in their area and have  the “strongest lobbying muscle” because every member of Congress has at least  one hospital in their district, Politico noted.
In addition,  Congressional members may be willing to listen to provider concerns, as 20  members hold physician credentials. Democratic physicians make up 4 seats in the  House, while Republican doctors make up 13 spots in the House and three in the  Senate, American Medical News reported.

“We are trained as physicians to listen to patients and work with them and  help them. In many ways, that is the same with constituents,” Rep. Ami Bera  (D-Calif.) said. Bera also encouraged other providers to engage in leadership  discussions in ways not limited to Congress.
“They should not just be at  the table; they should be sitting at the head of the table,” he said about  providers. “It is not necessarily running for office. But it is supporting your  professional organization. It is going to city council meetings. This is a time  for us as a profession to be involved.”

 

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