Engel Leads 221 Members of Congress to Reject Cuts to Safety Net Hospitals

Sep 29, 2017

Washington D.C.—Congressman Eliot L. Engel, a top member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has sent a bipartisan letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi calling for an immediate delay to Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payment cuts.

Medicaid DSH payments help sustain hospitals that serve a disproportionate number of low-income and uninsured patients. In doing so, these hospitals incur tremendous uncompensated costs. Hospitals might be underpaid for services, or not paid at all. Medicaid DSH payments help make up for those losses and, in turn, allow hospitals to keep their doors open and continue caring for the most vulnerable among us.

But cuts to Medicaid DSH payments are scheduled to take effect on October 1st, posing a serious threat to the country’s health care safety net. Congressman Engel partnered with Congressman John A. Culberson (R-TX) and Congressman Steven M. Palazzo (R-MS) to urge House Leadership to delay these cuts for at least two years. Their bipartisan letter was signed by 221 Members of Congress – a majority of the House.

“Thanks to Medicaid DSH payments, our constituents – regardless of their ability to pay – can turn to safety net hospitals in times of need,” Engel said. “These hospitals operate on extremely slim, if not negative, margins. That means every cut has a major effect on their ability to serve our communities. If Medicaid DSH cuts go through, and force hospitals to close their doors, many Americans will have nowhere to turn. We cannot let that happen.”

“The Medicaid DSH program provides financial assistance to hospitals that care for our nation’s most vulnerable populations – the poor, children, the disabled, and the elderly,” said Tom Nickels, Executive Vice President of the American Hospital Association (AHA). “The AHA remains committed to working with Congress to continue to stop the Medicaid DSH cuts, and we thank Representatives Engel, Culberson, and Palazzo for leading this bipartisan effort to postpone the cuts for at least an additional two years.”
Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH, President and CEO, America's Essential Hospitals, said, "We thank the many House members who signed this letter; their strong bipartisanship shows how DSH cuts put everyone and every community at risk. Hospitals that depend on DSH not only care for those who face economic hardships, but also provide trauma care, disaster response, and many other services that benefit all people. We must stop these cuts, which threaten those services and access to care."
“Without DSH funding, NYC Health + Hospital’s essential mission to provide care for all, including the uninsured and underinsured, would be seriously threatened,” said Stanley Brezenoff, interim president and chief executive officer of NYC Health + Hospitals. “We thank Congressman Engel for his leadership on this issue that affects so many New Yorkers.”

“Medicaid DSH funding provides critical support for safety net hospitals and the patients they serve. The DSH cuts would deal a devastating blow to communities across our State and the nation. GNYHA member hospitals are extremely grateful to Congressman Engel and his colleagues for their outstanding leadership on this critical issue,” said Kenneth E. Raske, President, Greater New York Hospital Association.

Bea Grause, President of the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS), commended the leadership of Representative Engel and the dozens of New York Delegation members who are standing together in a bipartisan way to protect this crucial funding, “Medicaid DSH payments are a lifeline to safety net hospitals that care for our most vulnerable populations across New York State. HANYS thanks Representative Engel for his long history of fighting for safety net hospitals and the communities they serve.”

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Please note this press release was originally published on September 29, 2017 by Congressman Engel’s House of Representative’s office and posted to this website no sooner than 72 hours after initial publication.