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Hospitals watching sequestration debate closely

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UNDATED (WXPR) -  Hospitals are watching the outcome of the sequestration debate with concern.  That's because hospitals face the loss of millions of dollars in Medicare payments if sequestration kicks in on schedule March 1st.

Wisconsin Hospital Association vice-president Eric Borgerding says the sequestration is the latest in a series of cuts to Medicare putting the squeeze on hospitals.  "These cuts are the latest in a round that will see billions in Medicare reimbursement reductions for hospitals and physicians.  It's very troubling, and we have little doubt that it will start to affect areas related to employment."

Borgerding says each hospital will react in different ways to the cuts.  He says each hospital will put patient health at the top of the list to protect, but the cuts will result in changes.  "We've been doing a good job in this state for the last several years of becoming leaner and more efficient and delivering better quality care, however, even with the progress we've made in reducing our costs in the state, these types of cuts, these sorts of reimbursement hits simply can't just be absorbed or managed away."

He says the political battle in Washington is hitting home with this debate.  "Hospital systems really are sort of feeling like the pinata in the deficit reduction game.  It's just every time the budget deal makers sit down or try to do something, Medicare reimbursement seems to be the place they go and it's going to start affecting our hospitals as employers and our hospitals as community institutions."

Health related groups say 15,000 jobs in Wisconsin could be lost over the next nine years because of sequestration.

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