A new study suggests that future cuts in Medicare disproportionate share (Medicare DSH) and Medicaid DSH payments could pose problems for hospitals that serve large numbers of uninsured patients.

According to a new report in the journal Health Affairs,

Such cuts in government funding of uncompensated care could pose challenges to some providers, particularly in states that have not adopted the Medicaid expansion or where implementation of health care reform is proceeding slowly.

Medicare DSH and Medicaid DSH payments help underwrite the uncompensated care hospitals provide to their uninsured patients.  All private safety-net hospitals receive such payments.

health affairsEven after Affordable Care Act reforms take effect, 25 to 30 million Americans are expected to remain uninsured.  Medicare DSH payments are expected to decline $22.1 billion between now and 2019 and Medicaid DSH payments, temporarily delayed by two separate actions of Congress, are expected to decline $17.1 billion through 2020.

The new study supports The National Association of Urban Hospitals’ long-time position that Medicare DSH and Medicaid DSH cuts would be harmful to private, non-profit urban safety-net hospitals and should be delayed.   NAUH also has endorsed legislation calling for such a delay.

Learn more about the Health Affairs study in this Washington Post article and find the study itself here, on the web site of Health Affairs.