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Local Hospitals Fear Super Committee Cuts

Lynn Nicholas, President of the Mass. Hospital Association, whose members are fretting about looming cuts to Medicare

WBUR’s Martha Bebinger reports that Massachusetts hospitals, some of the state’s largest employers, are preparing for the worst as the federal deficit super committee looks to make cuts in Medicare. The local hospitals say the cuts could hurt doctor training programs, among others.

The Massachusetts Hospital Association is out with a new analysis that shows that one year cuts in the program could reach hundreds of millions of dollars. Over 10 years, that number could reach into the billions.

Bebinger spoke with Bob Oakes this morning on the topic, and their conversation is here:

Bob: All the possible cuts we’re talking about this morning would be in Medicare, the federal health care program for the elderly. Why are hospitals so dependent on Medicare?

Martha: It pays doctors to care for many of their sickest patients, the elderly and disabled and several proposals would affect how much or the way doctors are paid. But the biggest worry right now Bob is possible cuts to graduate medical education. Medicare pays part of the cost of training doctors, that’s salaries and equipment and services. And if the super committee reduced medicare spending here, the Massachusetts Hospital Association say members would lose between $100 and $300 million a year or one to $3.2 billion over ten years.

Bob: There are about 5,000 doctors in training in Massachusetts at any given time. How many men and women would this affect?

Martha: We don’t have exact numbers, but one estimate says hospitals would have to eliminate several hundred student or resident slots. Continue reading