NAHC, Other Leading Health Care and Senior Groups, Oppose Medicare Cuts to Fund Trade Bill
April 22, 2015 12:04 PM
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) on Tuesday partnered with three other leading health care associations to oppose the Medicare cuts included in the trade legislation. NAHC and the three other organizations—the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, American Health Care Association—sent a letter on Tuesday to members of the US Senate and House opposing a provision in the legislation reauthorizing the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program that would include cuts to Medicare as a pay-for to offset the cost of the legislation. Senior groups, including the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, also criticized the Medicare cuts.
Subsequently, the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday passed the trade legislation including the 0.25 percent cut to Medicare providers for the last six months of 2024 to offset the cost of the legislation. The House Ways and Means Committee is considering the legislation on Thursday. According to a report from POLITICO, Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee are working to remove the Medicare cuts, due to the opposition expressed by NAHC and others. “We’re working on a more acceptable offset for TAA rather than taking cuts out of Medicare,” Rep. Ron Kind said to POLITICO.
Currently, the sequester cuts to Medicare are set to expire after the first six months of 2024, because the second half of 2024 was outside of the 10-year budget window. As a result, members of Congress established a 4 percent cut to Medicare providers for the first six months of 2024, in order to average 2 percent for the entire year. The trade legislation, however, would impose a 0.25 percent cut to Medicare providers for the last six months of 2024, thereby increasing the overall sequester cut to Medicare providers in 2024 above the current 2 percent level included in the Budget Control Act. The legislation would increase the sequester cut amount by $700 million, as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office.
NAHC and the other organizations in the letter urged Senators and Representatives to remove the Medicare cuts. “On behalf of our members, who include the vast majority of health care providers treating Medicare beneficiaries, we are writing to share with you our concerns with cuts to Medicare included in trade legislation,” NAHC and the other organizations wrote.
The letter stated that Medicare providers have already made significant sacrifices, and it raised concern about the use of Medicare cuts to fund non-Medicare legislation. “Hospitals, physicians, nursing homes and home health and hospice providers have already absorbed hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to the Medicare program in recent years. Additionally alarming is the use of Medicare cuts to pay for non-Medicare related legislation, a precedent that we believe is unwise,” the health associations wrote in the letter.
The associations urged the Members of Congress to remove the Medicare cuts from the trade legislation because they said the cuts would negatively impact not only providers but also patients.
“We oppose the inclusion of this Medicare cut in trade legislation moving through the Congress and as an offset for any subsequent legislation,” NAHC and the other associations wrote. “We urge Congress to strike this provision from the legislation. Reductions to Medicare payments have real impacts on patients and providers, and we appreciate your consideration in this matter.”
You can read the full letter here. Please stay tuned to NAHC Report for additional updates on this issue.