Emergency room care is among the most expensive, least efficient forms of healthcare available, which is why our representatives in Washington have sought to support hospitals that see a large number of these patients.
That’s the Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program in a nutshell. It provides critical funding to offset costs for uncompensated care. Right now, that funding that hospitals rely on is at risk if Congress doesn’t act.
If that funding goes away, it makes it more likely that hospitals will have to raise costs for those who do have health insurance.
Maintaining this funding for hospitals has long been a point of bipartisan agreement. Every year since 2013 Congress has voted overwhelmingly to protect the DSH program. But time is running out this year; if Congress does not act soon, $7 billion in cuts to the DSH program will go into effect on October 1, 2019.
Right here in Wisconsin, DSH cuts would have an enormous impact on hospitals serving lower income community members. Wisconsin’s current annual DSH allotment is $187.7 million which 112 hospitals – including Aurora Health Care Metro, and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin – rely on to keep their doors open and provide quality care to low-income patients. If Congress fails to delay cuts soon, Wisconsin hospitals stand to lose $12 million in funding the first year and double that amount the following year.
That is just not sustainable for these safety-net hospitals. Without cutting services there is no option other than to raise rates. That would hit lower-income Wisconsinites who depend on their local hospitals hardest and inevitably raise costs, which is why Health care leaders, advocacy groups, and industry experts support the DSH program and are urging Congress to take action to protect the program.
Tell your MoC that there is no place for politics in this debate.