National healthcare groups urge Congress to delay Medicaid disproportionate share hospital cuts

The American Hospital Association, along with seven other national healthcare organizations, are calling on federal lawmakers to delay the start of the Medicaid disproportionate share hospital cuts scheduled to begin Oct. 1. 

Assuming uncompensated care costs would decrease as the number of insured people increased, the ACA adjusted Medicaid payments for hospitals that serve a disproportionate share of low-income patients. But while coverage increases have fallen short of projections, ACA-mandated reductions in Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments remain, with a $4 billion cut scheduled for the Oct. 1 start of fiscal year 2020.

The start of the cuts has been delayed multiple times, and now eight groups — including America's Essential Hospitals, American Hospital Association, Association of American Medical Colleges, and Federation of American Hospitals — are asking for another delay.

"Congress recognized the critical nature of fully funding the Medicaid DSH program by delaying the start of the cuts for the past six years," the groups wrote in a Feb. 19 letter to House and Senate leaders. "We urge you to once again delay the start of the Medicaid DSH cuts given the vital need for this program."

Ayla Ellison contributed to this story.

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