Friday, December 13, 2013
 

 

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Federal legislation to extend Medicare payment programs for upstate hospitals clears U.S. Senate committee

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Charles Schumer’s legislation to permanently extend two Medicare payment programs that are critical to rural hospitals in Upstate New York has cleared a key hurdle with its passage in the Senate Finance Committee. These programs, which are crucial to the hospitals, their employees and the rural communities that they serve, must be renewed every year. This lack of security and certainty of this critical funding can be debilitating for these hospitals, and Schumer’s legislation would make these payments for both Low-Volume Hospitals and Medicare Dependent Hospitals permanent.

The Low Volume Hospital Program impacts 18 New York hospitals, providing Medicare support to hospitals that are very important to rural communities, but do not necessarily serve a high volume of patients. The Medicare-Dependent Hospital Program provides support to six hospitals in New York that treat a high number of Medicare patients. At least 60 percent of acute inpatient days or discharges must come from Medicare in order for these hospitals to qualify for the MDH program. Schumer’s legislation, which he introduced with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), extended these programs permanently. Schumer’s legislation must now pass the full Senate.

Schumer also helped prevent five Low-Volume hospitals from being cut from this program, which would have been devastating to those facilities. Those hospitals are: Alice Hyde Medical Center, Nicholas H. Noyes Memorial Hospital, Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, Oneida Healthcare Center, and Canton-Potsdam Hospital. These hospitals receive payment from Medicare on a sliding scale and must have at least 200 but no more than 1600 Medicare discharges in order to receive reimbursement.

“I am thrilled that my legislation, which will provide life-saving funding to twenty-two rural hospitals in Upstate New York, has cleared this key hurdle in the Senate Finance Committee. This legislation, if it becomes law, will permanently extend the millions of dollars that these hospitals need in order to treat the high number of Medicare patients and to support rural communities. I will continue to fight for this legislation to pass the entire Senate and become law,” said Senator Schumer.