Hospitals could sign on to an agreement with Senate health reform leader Max Baucus, D-Mont., and the White House to help save up to $200 billion as part of the overhaul plan, lobbyist and health industry sources tell Roll Call. The possible deal would come on the heels of an agreement between the drug industry lobbying group, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and senior Democrats to save $80 billion over 10 years by expanding the Medicare drug program. The American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals and the Catholic Health Association are all said to be in talks about the potential bargain.
It's unclear what the hospitals would get, but Roll Call reports: "One area targeted by some lawmakers for savings would come from the Medicare and Medicaid disproportionate-share payment programs that reimburse hospitals for providing services to patients who are uninsured or whose treatments are not fully covered. Hospitals say the program would naturally see significant cost savings if all Americans have health coverage, but they caution that making the cuts before health reforms have been implemented could do more harm."
Other sectors of the industry did not yet appear ready to pursue similar deals, but insurance and physician groups said they were engaged in conversations with members of Congress, and were prepared to make some sacrifices (Ackley, 6/24).