The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction — also known as the supercommittee — is charged with crafting a far-reaching plan by Nov. 23 to reduce the national deficit by at least $1.2 trillion.

If Congress fails to adopt the committee's recommendations by Dec. 23, or if the committee can't find enough savings, automatic spending cuts totaling $1.2 trillion, split between defense and nondefense programs, will take effect. Medicare payments to hospitals and other providers would face a reduction of up to 2 percent over 2013 to 2021, an estimated $41 billion cut in hospital payments alone, $119 billion in Medicare overall.

Led by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), the committee is expected to work from existing proposals floated by independent groups, lawmakers, the president's 2010 bipartisan deficit commission and others. President Obama also recently sent to the committee for its consideration his $3 trillion proposal, which includes proposed reductions of $248 billion to Medicare and $73 billion to Medicaid over 10 years (see the AHA's Sept. 19 Special Bulletin at www.aha.org for details).

After analyzing the proposals, the AHA has identified areas where we believe funding for hospital care under Medicare and Medicaid is at risk:

  • Medicare graduate medical education
  • Medicaid provider assessments
  • Medicare bad debt reimbursement
  • Rural or small hospitals
  • Post-acute care

The AHA has created fact sheets detailing the effect cuts in these areas could have on access to services, hospital jobs and other jobs supported by hospitals. Please share these fact sheets with your legislators and ask them to urge the committee to reject proposals to cut funding for hospital care.

Additional reductions to Medicare and Medicaid provider payments would be devastating to hospitals, patients and communities, especially at a time when hospitals are already absorbing cuts as a result of state budget reductions and recent legislative and regulatory changes.

To view the fact sheets and the AHA's latest Action Alerts, visit the Action Center at www.aha.org.

Penny Brooke (Penny.Brooke@nurs.utah.edu) is COG chair and a trustee of Intermountain Health Care Central Urban Region in Salt Lake City.