(AP Photo/David Goldman)
July 4 (Bloomberg) — Medicare payments to hospitals for care they provide on an outpatient basis would increase 2.1 percent under an Obama administration proposal highlighting a trend toward discouraging unnecessary admissions.

Medicare, the health program for the elderly and disabled, paid about $37 billion in 2013 for outpatient treatment at hospitals and $139 billion for admissions. The proposed increase for 2015 was released yesterday in a regulation from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Hospitals are grappling with insurance expansions under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare. Health insurers have negotiated prices aggressively for plans they sell in new government-run exchanges serving about 8 million people, while Medicaid, the state-run program for the poor with traditionally low payment rates, has grown to cover about 6 million more people.

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