Medicaid Cuts Called Security Threat; Senate Panel Told


 
 

S.A. Miller | | Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Hospital emergency rooms will not be ready to treat victims of a major terrorist strike or natural disaster if Medicaid cuts scheduled for this month take effect, medical professionals warned Capitol Hill lawmakers yesterday."

Are [trauma centers] ready and could they meet the surge of 450-type victims that occurred on 9/11? I think the answer to that is no," Wayne Meredith, chief of general surgery at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, told a House panel.

"The effects of the Medicaid changes will be dramatic in our hospital," he said. "I'll just beg you to stop the Medicaid cuts."

Colleen Conway Welsh, dean of Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, said plans to restrict Medicaid payments to public providers, eliminate funding for graduate medical education and cut reimbursements for outpatient hospital care threaten to gut the nation's emergency rooms.

"If Medicaid dollars are reduced in these three areas, a reduction in personnel and readiness will occur in our hospitals and emergency departments across the country," she said. "And even worse, it will occur in the midst of a serious and intractable nursing and nursing faculty shortage and limit our ability to respond to a disaster, particularly a blast or explosive injury with serious burns.

"The testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was part of two days of hearings on upcoming changes to Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals and medical schools set for May 26.

The Department of Health and Human Services ordered the reduced payments to fight waste and fraud in the program. Critics, however, say it will undermine the health care system.

A bill that would delay the new Medicaid rules until April 2009 passed the House 349-62 last month and Senate Democrats are working on a strategy to pass it, possibly linking the measure to the administration's $108 billion war request for the remainder of 2008.

President Bush said he will veto the House bill and the war-funding bill if it exceeds a $108 billion limit or if it is loaded with domestic add-ons.

Senate Republicans say the one-year moratorium puts off an opportunity to address a federal program that has long suffered from waste, fraud and abuse.

"We should be talking about fixing the regulations so they better address real problems in Medicaid, but instead the House is trying to kick the can to next year," said Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican.

Georgetown University foreign service professor Bruche Hoffman told the House panel the federal government should beef up the country's trauma centers and prepare medical workers to deal with the mass casualty events or MCEs.

"Moreover, given the increased financial stress on our nation's health system in general - and urban hospitals in particular - any degradation of our existing capabilities will pose major challenges to our nation's readiness for an attack," he said. "Indeed, the opposite is required - a strengthening of our capabilities at hospitals and for the emergency services that we require to effectively respond to a terrorist MCE involving conventional bombing and suicide attack."




Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Operations and Protcols, WMD and Terrorism

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Four Killed in New Mexico Medical Plane Crash

Crash near fairgrounds claims patient and crew of three.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Texas Ambulance Involved in Crash

Odessa ambulance and car collide during response.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Las Vegas Fire, AMR Reach New Deal

Tentative agreement reached over ambulance calls.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Fire Damages Several Homes in California Earthquake

Four homes destroyed and others damaged after quake rattles Napa.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

New Mexico Air Ambulance Crash

NTSB investigates crash that killed four.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Where in the World of EMS is A.J.? Scranton

JEMS Editor-in-Chief visits his hometown of Scranton, Pa.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Over 100 Injured in California Earthquake

172 patients treated at Napa hospital after 6.0-magnitude earthquake.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >