Medicare Cuts Will Slash Healthcare Jobs, AHA Says

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , October 24, 2011

The case for healthcare job creation gets stronger if you consider that much of the September growth outside of healthcare was credited to the end of a two-week strike in August affecting about 45,000 telecommunications workers at Verizon. If those returning Verizon workers were factored out of the September growth, then healthcare would be responsible for 75% of the 58,000 new jobs in the economy for the month.

Those are jobs -- and voters -- in 50 states, in every city, in every town. With an election year looming, and at a when Republicans and Democrats say they are making job creation a top priority, AHA/ANA is making sure these lawmakers – and the public -- understand who is creating the jobs, and why their success shouldn't be messed with.

The AHA has estimated that the 2% reduction in Medicare payments that would be imposed automatically on Jan. 1, 2012 if the Super Committee can't come up with mandated budget cuts would cost hospitals about $41 billion through 2021. With labor consuming more than two-thirds of hospital spending, AHA says its calculations show that Medicare cuts would cost nearly 200,000 hospital jobs over the next decade.   

You can argue whether or not the growth in healthcare sector jobs is good for everyone outside of healthcare. That job growth, after all, plays a part in fueling the nation's runaway and unsustainable healthcare expenditures, which now account for about 18% of gross domestic product.

That is a legitimate argument. But that is policy. This is politics. This is about defending your turf. This is about protecting your interests. It's a fight that hospitals and nurses can take to every home district in Congress. It's smart.  

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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