"You're killing us" should have been the message yesterday when hospital CEOs from around the country met in Washington, DC, for the American Hospital Association's Advocacy Day. Approximately 200 CEOs met on Capitol Hill yesterday with their Congressional representatives to warn of the impact on the access to the care for our patients through arbitrary across-the-board cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
Between ongoing state and federal budget cuts, state initiated assessments (taxes) to fund Medicaid, the Fiscal Cliff of a 2% reduction in payments to hospitals, the jeopardy that the Maryland Waiver is currently in jeopardy due to the above-mentioned provider assessments, denied days for care that has been provided due to the picayune documentation requirements of payors, withheld monies as a result of the government's somewhat flawed Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) process (in this case, money is withheld for care that is provided and then the care has to been substantiated in a long, drawn-out process), the financial impact of these cuts on hospitals will threaten our ability to effectively care for our patients . Simply put, WMHS waits months for monies that should have been paid but are held usually for what seems to be whatever reason the payor can think of. Eventually we get paid, but the administrative costs associated with the appeals continue to be a burden on hospitals. With health care costs running about $1.7 trillion per year in the US, hospitals recognize that change has to occur.
At WMHS, we have made great progress in keeping patients healthy and out of the hospital, ultimately reducing health care costs. But, that has happened over the last two and one-half years and we are now finally seeing results. The payors, including CMS, want us to put cost saving initiatives in place overnight and have them generating results by morning. Real long-term solutions are what is necessary in order to still provide quality patient care while reducing the cost of that care.