FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 1, 2006
Schumer Announces New Federal Dollars For Olean General Hospital With Approval Of ‘Sole Community Hospital’ Designation
Schumer Aggressively Lobbied Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services To Obtain The Designation
‘Sole Community Hospital’ Status Gives Olean General Hospital Higher Reimbursement Rates Under Medicare
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that Olean General Hospital has been given the ‘Sole Community Hospital’ designation by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The approval of the Hospital’s application will give them a higher reimbursement rate under the Medicare program. Olean General Hospital’s application was set to be denied since they do not meet the criteria for being at least 25 miles away from the nearest acute care hospital. In June, Schumer urged Mark McClellan, Administrator of CMS to approve Olean's application, and in October called Acting Deputy Administrator Herb Kuhn to personally appeal to him.
“This is great news for Olean General Hospital and for residents of Cattaraugus and Allegany counties,” Schumer said. “Olean General is a critical part of the community, and – as I know full well from my many trips to the area – the only first-rate health care destination for residents of Olean and the surrounding Southern Tier communities. Both Olean General and their customers will benefit greatly from this sole source designation, and I will continue to fight tooth and nail to ensure they keep this status for years to come."
Olean General Hospital is located in a small community in the Allegheny foothills in Western New York, and applied for ‘Sole Community Hospital’ status with Medicare, which would recognize that they are the only hospital for miles around, and therefore reimburse them at higher rates. This hospital provides acute care services and other critical community and emergency health care services to the 15,000 residents of the Olean community, including medical, surgical, intensive care, obstetrics, renal dialysis and a 24-hour emergency room. Olean General’s value to the community has only increased in recent years, when nearby Cuba Memorial Hospital transformed from an acute care hospital to a critical access hospital focusing on a more limited number of services. Additionally, because the nearest acute care hospital is located in Pennsylvania, residents of the Olean General Hospital service area have no easily accessible alternatives for the community hospital care they need. Only about 3-4 percent of the residents of Olean General’s service area seek care at another local area hospital.
CMS acknowledged that due to construction currently going on in the area, although Olean General is usually less than 25 miles away from a hospital in Pennsylvania, the construction detours lengthen the driving distance to 25.5 miles. Therefore, as long as the construction is in place and the distance between hospitals is 25.5 miles, Olean will be a ‘Sole Community Hospital’ and received the higher reimbursement rate.
Schumer has pledged to work with Olean General Hospital to keep this designation even after the construction is complete. He cited the isolation of the population on a seasonal basis, due to lake effect snow, as increasing the difficulty for residents to safely travel to another hospital.