U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) introduced legislation to help community hospitals keep their doors open to low-income and other vulnerable patients, particularly those in underserved and rural communities.

“Community hospitals provide health care to our most vulnerable populations and serve as the safety net for those in need,” said McSally. “But we can’t ask them to fall into the red to provide vital care for so many in underserved and rural communities. My bill would stop funding cuts to community hospitals so that they aren’t forced to raise rates or cut services on the many patients they serve, or close their doors for good.”

McSally’s bill, the DSH Cuts Delay Act of 2019 (S. 2959), would delay funding cuts to Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments for two years. DSH payments go to eligible hospitals that serve a disproportionate share of low-income patients with special needs, including children, seniors and the disabled. 

More than 35 percent of Arizona’s hospitals are DSH hospitals. Medicaid DSH payments are intended to help hospitals offset uncompensated care such as unpaid costs of care for uninsured individuals and costs not covered in the Medicaid shortfall.

The current delay of DSH payment cuts are set to expire on December 20, 2019.

Support from Arizona’s health care leaders and hospitals:

Steve Purves, President and CEO, Valleywise Health: “We are very grateful for Senator McSally’s efforts to delay cuts to DSH funding for two years. As Arizona’s safety net health system, we have a great appreciation for how these funds support medical education as well as the care of vulnerable patients throughout the state.”

Mike Patterson, FACHE, Chief Executive Officer, Havasu Regional Medical Center: “On behalf of Havasu Regional Medical Center, I am pleased to support the bill proposed by Senator McSally to delay Medicaid DSH cuts. If enacted, the cuts will reduce health care spending by $4 billion in the first year, followed by $8 billion a year for FY 2021-2025. This would be crippling to community hospitals around the country and Arizona, and I appreciate the Senator’s recognition of this important issue.”

Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH, president and CEO, America’s Essential Hospitals: “We appreciate and thank Sen. McSally for her leadership to stop the DSH cuts, which threaten hospitals on the front lines of care for our nation’s most vulnerable people. Her bill, similar to bipartisan legislation that won unanimous approval from a House committee this year, is a crucial step toward a sustainable solution. We urge her colleagues and Senate leadership to support it.”

Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association President and CEO Ann-Marie Alameddin: “Many Arizona hospitals depend greatly on Medicaid DSH funding and the proposed cuts, if enacted, would seriously compromise many hospitals’ ability to provide care in their community. We applaud Senator McSally’s leadership in introducing this bill and her support of the patients and communities who rely on the viability of their hospital.”