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Opinion: Hospital Cuts Demand Sharp Instruments

Michael Regier, for HealthLeaders Media, July 29, 2011

Continuing to improve safety, coordinate care across multiple settings, reduce readmissions and improve health outside of the hospital are priorities for leaders at community, urban and rural hospitals alike.

Hospitals are working with each other to find answers, and they are partnering with government, too. Just consider the more than 2,000 hospitals that have joined the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Partnership for Patients initiative, pledging to find ways to advance the critical work of making care safer, more reliable and less costly for all Americans.

That's partly why recent suggestions that we can cut payments to Medicare-participating providers without affecting the healthcare provided to patients have prompted such concerns. But those suggestions don't face the facts. 

Medicare's payments already don't cover the costs of providing care for many, if not most, hospitals, and more payment cuts will ultimately mean reduced access to care for the nation's most vulnerable citizens--seniors, those with limited means and those living with serious illnesses. We need look no further than the rapidly-increasing number of physicians who are unwilling to accept new Medicare patients for our best evidence that provider payment cuts reduce access to care.

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