Despite all of this, Van Gorder says hospital systems cannot afford to behave like Congress and the Super Committee and fail. If they do, he says, "people can die."
In a statement Tuesday, President and CEO of the American Hospital Association, Rich Umbdenstock, predicted that the arbitrariness of the sequester "will have an impact not just on the elderly and disabled beneficiaries of the program, but on their families. It will also have an impact on the ability of hospitals to provide essential public services to the communities they serve, given the impact that Medicare has on the entire health care system."
Congress is likely to reconsider the BCA's trigger, he added, "America's hospitals will work with Congress as these discussions continue."
"Once again, the spending cuts will fall on the backs of providers," says Dennis Dahlen, senior vice president of finance and CFO for Phoenix-based Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit hospital systems in the country.
"The cuts themselves are painful but even more painful is the fact that these reductions don't represent forward movement on the reforms necessary to put the Medicare program on a sustainable footing," he says. "I'd call it 'the price of failure to move forward."
Dahlen estimates Banner Health will lose $35 million due to payment reductions in 2013.
Adds Michael T. Burke, senior vice president and CFO, at New York University Langone Medical Center: "For us at NYU, it is a good thing . We were hoping it would fail. The reason being they were recommending very large and disproportionate cuts to teaching hospitals that were inequitable and unsustainable for many of our NYC teaching hospitals. 2 percent across the board is much more reasonable."