Hospitals are committed to being engaged partners in the health care reform effort; getting coverage to more people must be a top priority. To help you navigate the course of this historic debate and how legislation could affect you, NHHA offers links to the latest news, resources and advocacy.
March 22, 2010
The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday voted to pass Congress' landmark health care reform package. The House first voted 219-212 to pass the Senate-passed reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590). It then voted 220-211 to approve the Reconciliation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4872), a package of changes to H.R. 3590. Together, the bills would extend health coverage to 32 million people, 95% of legal residents and 92% of all U.S. residents. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the legislation will cost $940 billion over 10 years.
For more than a year, the New Hampshire Hospital Association has been engaged in the effort to reform health care in America. We all know the challenges: skyrocketing insurance premiums, rising costs and too many people without coverage. That's why hospitals have pushed for meaningful reform that is comprehensive and balanced and financed as a shared responsibility across all stakeholders. Last night’s vote is a step toward that goal.
While the health reform legislation passed by the House of Representatives is not perfect, NHHA supports expanding coverage to 32 million Americans and implementing health insurance reforms. NHHA and its member hospitals look forward to continuing to work with New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation and all stakeholders to further improve our health care system for the patients and communities we serve.
March 9, 2010
The AHA has compiled a document summarizing the Senate’s health reform bill and noting elements that President Obama has suggested changing as part of a final reform package. The president released a summary of his reform plan, based on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590), which passed the Senate December 24. The White House noted that the changes “reflect policies from the House-passed bill and the president's priorities.” Last week, the president also announced he would consider several Republican ideas, including: proposals to provide an additional $50 million in grants for medical liability demonstrations; ways to increase doctor reimbursement if Medicaid is expanded; allowing high-deductible health plans to participate in the health insurance exchange; and using "medical professionals to conduct random undercover investigations of health care providers that receive reimbursements from Medicare, Medicaid and other federal programs."
February 25, 2010
President Obama this morning launched a six-hour discussion with House and Senate leaders on health reform, which focused on insurance reforms, cost containment and expanding coverage. In opening remarks, the president called his health care proposal “the best blend of the House and the Senate legislation that's already passed,” and invited Democratic and Republican participants to “talk about some areas where we disagree, and see if we can bridge those gaps.” Presenting opening remarks for the Republicans, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) concluded, “Our view, with all respect, is that this is a car that can't be recalled and fixed, and that we ought to start over.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) each presented opening remarks for the Democrats. In his remarks, Reid pledged “to do everything that I can as a senator to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this done. We need to do health care reform.”
January 28, 2010
Touching on health reform last night in his State of the Union address, President Obama urged Congress to "find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people." As expected, Obama also called for a bipartisan fiscal commission to address the federal deficit and said his administration is prepared to freeze discretionary government spending for three years starting in 2011. "Spending related to our national security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will not be affected," he said. "But all other discretionary government programs will." Commenting on the president's remarks, AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock said, "We believe there are still real issues with our health care system -- the need to expand coverage to more people, make coverage more affordable and put in place important delivery system reforms -- and look forward to seeing what Congress and the President come up with."
January 7, 2010
As House and Senate Democratic leaders begin work on merging the chambers' health reform bills, the AHA today offered lawmakers its recommendations on what should be included in the final bill. They include expanding health coverage to at least 96% of legal U.S. residents; extending Medicaid eligibility to families at 133% of poverty rather than 150%; minimizing hospitals' Medicare market basket reductions in fiscal years 2010 through 2013 unless coverage is extended during that period; opposing any advisory board that could make binding recommendations on Medicare payments; and developing accountable care organizations that offer hospitals a leadership role. These and other concerns are outlined in the 27-page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
December 24, 2009
As expected, the Senate voted 60-39 along party lines early today to approve its health care reform bill (H.R. 3590). Conferees are expected to attempt to reconcile differences between the Senate bill and House-passed health reform bill (H.R. 3962) when Congress resumes in January.
December 21, 2009
Senate leaders are desperately trying to hold a health care reform vote before Christmas. The bill - in the form of a manager's amendment offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) - received the 60 votes necessary to proceed through the legislative process very early this morning. The final tally was a straight party-line vote, 60-40. All Democrats and two independents voted yes; all Republicans opposed. New Hampshire's senators, Republican Judd Gregg and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, remained split. The AHA has sent a letter to Sen. Reid, expressing its support for the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (H.R. 3590).
December 10. 2009
Please continue to contact your senators and urge them to reject the expansion of Medicare in health reform negotiations. The Senate proposal would add millions of people to Medicare at a time when the program already significantly under funds hospitals. Health reform efforts need to bolster hospitals’ efforts, not undermine them. Just today, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) reported that hospitals’ Medicare margins dropped from negative 6 percent in 2007 to an historic low of negative 7.2 percent in 2008. In a statement released by AHA, president Rich Umbdenstock said, "For the majority of America’s hospitals, Medicare payments cover less than the cost of care for hospital services to seniors, making it more difficult to make ends meet. The Medicare buy-in could hamper hospitals’ ability to maintain the essential public services that patients and communities depend upon and to upgrade technology and facilities that make care better".
December 3, 2009
Every vote will count - and primarily Democrats - for health reform to move out of the Senate. As a moderate Democrat, New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen will have considerable impact on the outcome of various amendments and the final bill. NHHA sent Sen. Shaheen a letter outlining lingering concerns and we encourage hospitals to reach out to her to share their particular points of view.
October 29, 2009
House leaders today released a merged health reform bill (H.R. 3962), which blends language from Ways & Means, Energy & Commerce and Education & Labor committees. Although the Congressional Budget Office is still scoring the measure, the bill is expected to expand coverage to roughly 96% of those legally residing in the U.S. and costs slightly less than $900 billion. It includes a public insurance option based on negotiated provider reimbursement rates, not Medicare rates as originally proposed.
“While a public option with negotiated rates for those above 150 percent of the poverty level is an improvement, we remain concerned that the program would still, in part, be based on historically low Medicare rates,” said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock, in a statement. “We will work with the House to improve upon their plan."
October 7, 2009
The Congressional Budget Office released an analysis of the Senate Finance Committee health care reform bill saying that over time, it would lower the deficit, cost less than President Barack Obama's threshold, and would expand coverage to millions of uninsured Americans. A vote on the Finance Committee bill is expected next week and despite reservations that have been raised by both Democrats and moderate Republicans, it is widely expected that the bill will adopted, after which it will be melded with the bill adopted earlier this year by the Senate HELP Committee and sent to the full Senate for consideration.
September 21, 2009
Legislative Advisory: Summary of Senator Baucus’s Health Care Reform Bill
September 16, 2009
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus has released a long-awaited $856 billion health-care reform bill that he claims will lower costs and cover millions of Americans, moving forward without the support of Republican colleagues he'd been wooing. Baucus's 223-page proposal mirrors many of the objectives set out by President Barack Obama. The bill would require individuals to buy insurance and set up a national insurance exchange where both individuals and small businesses could buy coverage. It would also extend tax subsidies to poorer Americans to help them buy insurance. But Baucus's plan doesn't include a government-run health insurance plan that many liberals had sought. Instead, it would create health-insurance cooperatives.
Sen. Charles Grassley, the finance panel's top Republican, said late Tuesday night that he still had ideas to lower the overall cost of the bill. Baucus has said he wants to bring the bill before the Senate Finance Committee next week to begin work on it.
You can read AHA's summary of the key provisions of the "America's Healthy Future Act of 2009" that affect hospitals.
July 16, 2009
Summary of House Tri-Committee Health Care Reform bill: America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. Click here to read the summary.
July 15, 2009
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted 13-10 along party lines to approve Sen. Edward Kennedy's comprehensive healthcare reform bill, the Affordable Health Choices Act. Click here to go to the Senate HELP committee to view Sen. Kennedy's statement and the bill text. Analysis of this version of health reform will be developed shortly.
July 14, 2009
House leaders released the “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009” on Tuesday, July 14th. The “tri-committee” health care reform bill is the product of the leaders of three key House committees: Ways & Means, Energy & Commerce and Education & Labor. Click here for a summary of key provisions of the House bill. The American Hospital Association is working on analyzing the 1,000 page bill so more details will be forthcoming.
July 8, 2009
The American Hospital Association (AHA), along with the Catholic Health Association and the Federation of American Hospitals, announced an agreement with the White House and the Senate Finance Committee that would reduce hospital funding by $155 billion over the next 10 years to help fund federal health care reform. Click HERE to read the joint statement of these organizations. The NHHA and its member hospitals will work with New Hampshire's Congressional Delegation to ensure they understand our state's unique issues and that any plan for reform best meets the needs of our patients and communities.
June 16, 2009
President Obama last weekend announced major payment cuts for healthcare providers as his way to pay for health care reform. Payment cuts are not reform! We've sent letters to our congressional delegation urging them to reject this latest proposal by the President. The health care reform dialogue is heating up in Congress, but we cannot start out with massive cuts to hospitals as a way to begin. Please contact Senator Gregg, Senator Shaheen, Congressman Hodes and Congresswoman Shea-Porter and tell them:
- Hospitals are supportive of health care reform
- Health care reform should be focused on:
- Wellness and prevention;
- Providing the highest quality care to our patients;
- Utilizing the best information possible to care for our patients;
- Providing the most efficient, affordable care to our patients; and
- Ensuring access and coverage for all.
- Payment cuts are not health care reform.
June 12, 2009
A proposal to reduce Medicare and Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments is being floated as part of health care reform efforts. As the Senate and House committees get set to debate reform legislation, it is important to urge your lawmakers to reject any effort to weaken federal support for the DSH programs - which support a broad range of services for low-income and uninsured children and adults as well as essential community services like trauma and burn care, disaster readiness, pediatric intensive and high-risk neonatal care and emergency psychiatric services - at least until coverage expansions are universal and fully implemented, and current Medicare and Medicaid payment shortfalls are addressed. At a time when these programs already under-funded, cuts to DSH payments would undermine hospitals' ability to serve patients and maintain vital community services.
May 15, 2009
Health Groups Committed to Health Reform Goals