Hospitals Worry About Infrastructure Plan


July 19, 2021 11:00 am

Hospital groups are raising alarms on Capitol Hill over the possibility that a bipartisan infrastructure package will be paid for partly by Covid-19 relief funds earmarked for health-care providers and an extension of Medicare cuts.

Health care trade groups launched a lobbying blitz earlier this month, with the American Hospital Association, America’s Essential Hospitals and seven other hospital groups sending letters to House and Senate leaders, warning lawmakers not to tap into health care funds to pay for a $579 billion infrastructure agreement struck with President Joe Biden, which could come up for a vote in the Senate this week.

Hospitals are worried that lawmakers want to claw back the $24 billion in unspent Covid-19 relief funds and extend beyond 2030 mandatory sequestration, which would tack on more years of expected automatic Medicare cuts. The AHA and other groups are arguing they need the relief funds and sequestration extensions should only be considered for health care-related policies.

“The precedent has been for using Medicare dollars for Medicare,” AHA Executive Vice President Stacey Hughes told Bloomberg Government in an interview.

Early frameworks for the infrastructure deal listed an extension of sequestration and collecting unspent pandemic aid. Lawmakers involved, however, said last week the details remain fluid. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) set a Wednesday deadline to wrap up talks on the package, giving hospitals until then to get their message across, Alex Ruoff reports.