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Four hospitals across Alaska face up to $3.6 million in cuts as Congress holds hearing on DSH program
(Anchorage, AK) – As hearings are held today on the Patient Access Protection Act (H.R. 3022) – a bill to delay cuts to the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program – data from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows just how critical the program’s funding is for hospitals in Alaska and across the country.
According to HHS, four hospitals in Alaska rely on this crucial funding, which is at risk if cuts to the DSH program are not delayed. The Medicaid DSH program provides vital support to Alaska hospitals that serve a disproportionate number of Medicaid beneficiaries and uninsured patients. The program is essential for hospitals to offset their uncompensated care costs from treating low-income patients. Because DSH hospitals usually have a low percentage of commercially insured patients, they cannot cost-shift these losses to private payers.
Last month, 302 members of the House of Representatives, including Rep. Don Young, sent a bipartisan letter to Congressional leaders calling for a delay in cuts to the DSH program. Today, the Health Subcommittee of the Committee on Energy and Commerce in the House of Representatives held hearings on H.R. 3022, a bill that would delay the cuts.
If the cuts are implemented, Alaska hospitals could lose $3.6 million the first year and double that number the following year. Industry experts warn that these proposed cuts to the program are unsustainable for struggling safety net hospitals, especially in rural areas, and could force some of them to reduce services or even close their doors. These cuts could devastate Alaska hospitals, and limit Alaskans access to care.
In Alaska, four hospitals receive DSH funds: