Members of America's Essential Hospitals are among more than 250 hospitals and health systems that have called on Congress to halt "crippling" cuts to Medicaid funding for care of the uninsured and other vulnerable patients.

In a Dec. 2 letter to House and Senate lawmakers, hospital leaders said statutory cuts to Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) funding - more than $18 billion through 2019 - "simply cannot be justified," now that about half the states have rejected Medicaid coverage expansion.

When Congress crafted the Affordable Care Act (ACA), lawmakers assumed a full national expansion of Medicaid would reduce the need for DSH funding. But the Supreme Court's June 2012 decision on the ACA upset that fragile balance by allowing states to opt out of expansion.

"Nationwide, hospitals provide more than $40 billion in uncompensated and under-compensated care each year. Medicaid DSH is a lifeline of support that helps to offset just some of that cost," the hospital executives said in the letter to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Finance and House Energy and Commerce committees. Now, they said, there is "no connection between the cuts and the number of uninsured or amount of uncompensated care across the country."

"Millions of vulnerable patients are in a terrible bind: no access to expanded coverage and billions less in hospital funding for their care," said America's Essential Hospitals President and CEO Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH. "We must stop the DSH reductions and reassess the coverage outlook."

In their letter, the hospital leaders - including those from more than 150 hospitals and systems represented by America's Essential Hospitals - pointed out that not only does Medicaid DSH ensure access to care for vulnerable people, "it allows our hospitals to provide services that are vital to our communities, including top-level trauma care, burn care, and neonatal intensive care."

"If these crippling cuts are not stopped, our hospitals will be forced to curtail essential services, ultimately limiting access to care and cutting jobs," they said.

View the letter at: