While people are focused on universal care, the Bush Administration is incrementally chipping away at our existing public health safety net. The most recent assault on our public health care infrastructure is escaping the notice of mainstream media and citizen journalists alike, probably because it is not easily explained. I am referring to a proposed arcane regulations change by the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) which, if enacted, will result in $4 to $5 billion dollars over 5 years in cuts to public hospitals and other hospitals that serve indigent patients. In addition, CMS is proposing other rules changes that will result in billions of dollars of reductions to teaching hospitals.
These hospitals serve as the backbone of our public health safety net, train the next generation of physicians and health care professionals, and are essential to any kind of response to disaster, terrorist attack or pandemic outbreak. Without them, our already frayed public health infrastructure may disintegrate.