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AHA Eyes 'Extremely Challenging' 2014

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, January 24, 2014

Facing significant reductions in payments, mounting regulatory actions, and a "broken" RAC appeals process, hospitals are facing a variety of pressures in the new year, the American Hospital Association says.

Protecting Medicare reimbursements from further cuts, the "two-midnight rule," RACs run amok, and monitoring the SGR phase-out top a busy 2014 agenda on Capitol Hill for the American Hospital Association, lobbyists for the association said in a telephone conference with media Thursday.

"For us globally, we are facing pressures to maintain access that communities have come to expect of our members and this environment we are dealing with out there in the real world and here in Washington is extremely challenging," AHA lead lobbyist Tom Nickels said, noting that the hospital have absorbed $113 billion in funding cuts since 2010.

"This is a significant reduction in payments that have an impact on our members and we are fearful of additional payment reductions coming at us."

Nickels pointed to a failed proposal this month in the Senate that would have siphoned Medicare dollars to pay for extending unemployment insurance.

"We have no dog in the fight in terms of unemployment insurance. That is not the point. Our concern is this continual desire on some people's part to go back to the well and use Medicare to pay for stuff," he says.

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