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Lawmakers Call for Action to Protect Safety-Net Hospitals

Pending cuts to DSH program total $8 billion annually

May 15, 2023

More than 225 federal lawmakers—including 11 from Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation—are calling on their colleagues to prevent harmful cuts to safety-net hospitals.

In a letter today to House leaders, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers urged action to avert pending cuts to the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program that are set to take effect on October 1.

“Preserving Medicaid DSH payments is critical to protecting the sustainability of rural and urban safety net hospitals that care for communities where accessing vital health care would otherwise be a challenge,” Andy Carter, HAP president and CEO, said in a statement with the release of the letter today.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The issue:  Without action, the proposed DSH allotments would be cut by $8 billion annually starting during October 2023, or more than two-thirds of annual federal DSH spending.
  • About the DSH program:  These payments are critical to hospitals in underserved communities that care for a disproportionate number of low-income and uninsured patients.
  • Legislative action:  The Supporting Safety Net Hospitals Act, introduced by Representative Yvette Clarke (D-NY), would delay pending cuts to the DSH program until fiscal year 2026.
  • Significant toll:  The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) indicated that some states are facing as much as a 90 percent cut to their DSH allotments.
  • The bottom line:  “If the proposed cuts go into effect, rural and urban safety net hospitals will lose critical funding that enables them to keep their doors open and treat the most vulnerable Americans,” the letter noted.

HAP applauds members of the delegation for supporting Pennsylvania’s hospitals. Signing the letter were Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-1), Brendan F. Boyle (D-2), Dwight Evans (D-3), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-5), Chrissy Houlahan (D-6), Susan Wild (D-7), Matt Cartwright (D-8), Daniel Meuser (R-9), John Joyce (R-13), Guy Reschenthaler, (R-14), and Chris Deluzio (D-17).

The full letter is available to review online.

HAP strongly urges Congress to prevent Medicaid DSH cuts. The Medicaid DSH program remains an important tool in providing essential financial assistance to hospitals that care for our state’s most vulnerable populations. For more information, contact John Myers, HAP’s vice president, federal advocacy.