Public Policy

Society of Hospital Medicine Joins Fight to Delay Medicare Cuts that Reduce Pay for Hospitalists


 

SHM has joined scores of medical societies pushing Congress to stop pending cuts to Medicare that would directly impact hospitalists.

Scheduled to go into effect at the start of the New Year, the cuts include sequestration, which would reduce hospitalists' Medicare payments by 2%, and slash funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is in addition to a 27% cut to Medicare physician payment rates resulting from Medicare's sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula.

In a letter last month to congressional leaders [PDF], and an accompanying note to society members, SHM said hospitalists need to lobby legislators "to find a reasonable and measured solution to deficit reduction that does not include arbitrary across-the-board cuts to Medicare providers."

"Congress needs to know we're not happy," says SHM board member Eric Siegal, MD, SFHM, board liaison SHM's Public Policy Committee. "The only way that we are going to get them to change their behavior is if enough of us mobilize, and make enough noise to make it clear that we are not going to stand for this anymore."

Dr. Siegal says that because Congress has repeatedly delayed draconian cuts, there is a general consensus that another delay is likely. But Dr. Siegal also notes lobbying is still necessary to ensure that will happen. SHM has previously supported a meaningful replacement to the SGR, which has yet to receive significant action in Congress.

"What the entire healthcare community needs to push for is a solution," Dr. Siegal adds. "It's very hard to develop any kind of a strategy for how you're going to deliver care if every X number of months you have to worry [whether] you're going to take a massive cut in your compensation."

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