Yesterday’s announcement from CMS that it intends to subject hospitals’ Medicaid supplemental payments to increased scrutiny should raise alarm bells in hospitals of all sizes across the country. And, for hospitals in Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, Tennessee and New Hampshire where Medicaid supplemental payments constitute more than three-quarters of total Medicaid payments, the level of concern should be three-alarm fire worthy.

The importance of these payments to patient care cannot be overstated. Hospitals must highlight their significance and articulate the precarious nature of hospital finance. Unfortunately, the complexity of these arrangements has undercut communication on how these payments work and why they matter …. it’s why CMS now can refer to them as “shady recycling schemes.”

Hospital leaders have a major voice and opportunity to educate members of Congress and their staffs on these payments and how they are a legacy of underfunding of Medicaid at the state level. State lawmakers, too, need to understand the consequences in their communities if these payments go away. From even more rural hospital closures to elimination of certain services lines, the impact will be severe.

Frequent, clear messaging that can be deployed by hospital leaders, board members, employees and physicians and business and community groups is critical.

Groundswell Health understands health care policy and the politics and how to build an effective communications strategy. Contact us to build an effective outreach campaign to ensure a healthy hospital infrastructure.

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