Bush to cut funding for public hospitals and indigent care

Nurses Activism


President Bush is poised to take advantage of the fine print in the rule that currently pays public hospitals up to 150% of costs to offset indigent care, reducing the percentage to 100% of costs. His reasons are obvious, given the recent downturn in the economy and his squandering the federal budget surplus through his tax rebate checks.

Kenneth Cohen, the new CEO of the Alameda County Medical Center (ACMC), says, "This could be a reality soon. This is as serious a funding threat as we will see." Melinda Paras, Executive Director of Health Access and also Chair of the ACMC Trustees Board, says, "There is the potential of all public hospitals in California closing if these cuts are made."

The three states this will impact most are California, Illinois and New York. In Los Angeles, SEIU hospital workers are responding with a mass rally at the county hospital on September 6th. But it may be too late. It is possible that Bush will decide to gut public hospital budgets by reducing the percentage of cost offset before Labor Day.

We urgently need you to take five minutes in the next 24 hours to email or call U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson and President Bush to oppose this direct assault on care for the uninsured, including immigrants, people of color, and low-income families.

The message is simple and clear: Keep the Medicaid federal rule on the upper payment limit at 150% of costs to offset indigent care. Do not cut the upper payment limit to 100%.

Please phone Secretary Thompson toll free at (877)696-6775 His email is [email protected]. However, phoning has more political impact than emailing.

President Bush must hear from all of us. The White House switchboard is: 202-456-1414. (The email is: [email protected].)

Hi feistynurse. I don't think that many people perceive the cutting of public funding to be a problem since so many perceive the government's action as an effort to reduce abuse, waste, and government in their personal lives. Also people that are indigent, immigrants, and minority are by and large, held in low esteem in society and are not seen as deserving of the care they receive. Most people don't realize that actions like the cutting of funding for public hospitals can have a domino effect.

Also, your topic about women losing health insurance should be disturbing enough to encourage the President and the DHHS secretary to find ways to strengthen public hospitals not just simply cut funding.

What needs to happen is that instead of talk about cutting funding, the discussion needs to be about cutting "red tape." This should pertain to all employers. "Red tape" keeps all of us unnecessarily stressed out and tied up in ridiculous forms of politics.

This is such a serious situation! Even with health coverage expansions, millions of uninsured Californians rely on safety-net providers, such as public hospitals and community clinics, to get basic health care needs met. Given the number of uninsured, Health Access estimates that such providers are already underfunded by $6 billion or more.

Yet federal rule changes threaten to force major cuts to funding of these already strapped institutions, at a scale certain to force some providers to close altogether.

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