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Perspectives on health policy affecting America’s hospitals and the patients we serve.

Rep. Comstock “Troubled” Over Proposed Medicare Cut that Would Hurt Seniors

January 14, 2016 | FAH Policy Blog Team

Category: Backstop, Medicare

Representative Barbara Comstock (VA-10) recently joined a growing list of lawmakers who are urging the Administration to reject a budget proposal that would hurt low-income seniors by cutting a critical Medicare provision.

Rep. Comstock sent a letter last week to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell expressing her “concern” regarding proposed drastic cuts to Medicare payments to hospitals. In it she explained how seniors would be hit hard by a budget proposal that reduces those payments from the current rate of 65% to just 25%.

“I am troubled with this approach and the effect it may have on frequent users of our nation’s healthcare system, notably the direct impact on seniors,” Rep. Comstock wrote. 

Since its inception, Medicare has included bad debt payments as a backstop for its built-in cost-sharing obligations. This backstop protects Medicare beneficiaries who cannot meet their obligations – often low-income seniors – as well as providers who serve them.

Rep. Comstock explains in the letter why this is so important to the people of Virginia:

“Medicare bad debt payments are a crucial backstop for seniors in Virginia’s 10th district, many of whom continue to struggle in the present economy. This reimbursement ensures that the elderly in Virginia maintain access to essential health care services, even when they simply cannot afford to pay their share of the costs…Virginia’s hospitals, and the patients who rely on them for their critical health care needs, depend on the Medicare program to be an example of a workable public-private relationship.”

The Federation of American Hospitals salutes Rep. Comstock for standing up to protect seniors’ access to critical care. She joins a group of more than 30 legislators, Senators and Representatives, from both sides of the aisle who have expressed opposition to the Medicare bad debt reductions.