FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 18, 2007
Schumer Announces Senate Passes Medicare Package That Includes Huge Spike In Funding For Hospitals In Orange And Dutchess Counties, Allowing Them To Hire Additional Nurses And Improve Patient Care
Schumer Fought for Section 508, which Provides Millions of Dollars to Hospitals in Dutchess and Orange Counties
With NYC Hospitals Gobbling Up Local Nurses across the Hudson Valley, Funding will Allow Hudson Valley Hospitals to Hire Additional Nurses to Provide First-class Care to Local Patients
Schumer Announces the Following HV Hospitals to Receive Over $12 Million in Total Funding: Bon Secours Community Hospital, St. Luke's - Cornwall, Northern Duchess Hospital, Orange Regional Medical Center, St. Anthony Community Hospital, St. Francis Hospital, and Vassar Brothers Medical Center
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the Senate has approved over $12 million for seven hospitals across Dutchess and Orange counties, which will go towards hiring more nurses and improving quality of patient care. The funding is included in the Senate Medicare package that passed the Senate today. The hospitals in Dutchess and Orange counties qualify for the funding due to their status as New York Section 508 hospitals.
Schumer had pushed for these hospitals to receive this funding since the Section 508 program funding expired last fall. The Senator announced today that the following hospitals will receive vital additional funding: Bon Secours Community Hospital will receive $1,271,500, Northern Dutchess Hospital will receive $543,240, Orange Regional Medical Center for $525,090, St. Anthony Community Hospital will receive $791,700, St. Francis Hospital will receive $1,187,200, St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital will receive $3,905,600 and Vassar Brothers Medical Center will receive $3,960,600.
“This is terrific news for hospitals across Orange and Dutchess counties and will allow them to hire additional nurses and provide top-notch medical services to local patients,” said Senator Schumer. “With hospitals across the region struggling to fill their health professional ranks, this funding is a shot in the arm and will help keep medical care in Dutchess and Orange counties first-class.”
Hospitals are paid by Medicare in a complicated formula, one factor of which is determined by the location of the hospital. Hospitals are paid more if they are considered to be in more expensive labor markets (called MSAs) that must offer higher salaries to attract nurses and other staff. This formula places the hospitals in Orange and Dutchess counties at a disadvantage because they receive lower payments because of geography, but still compete in higher wage markets. This problem affects many areas in New York State.
The Section 508 hospital program was established in 2003 when Congress passed the Medicare Modernization Act, which contained the Medicare prescription drug benefit and other reforms of the Medicare program. Section 508 of this law provided one-time hospital reclassifications for certain Orange and Dutchess County hospitals into the higher-paying New York City and Long Island MSAs. The program was extended for six months but expired at the end of September 2007. This second extension of the program is retroactive and for a full year, until September 30, 2008.
Reform of the Medicare hospital wage system is critically important in New York. Schumer worked with the Finance Committee on a number of other hospital reclassification issues for the state. For example, St. Francis Hospital and Vassar Brothers Medical Center currently receive money from the fund established by Section 508, but only began to receive it after it was noted that they had been accidentally left out of the Medicare regulations implementing the 2003 law.
St. Luke’s Cornwall is helped greatly by Section 508, but still needs additional help. St. Luke’s Cornwall was reclassified into the Long Island MSA under Section 508, while the other Orange County hospitals were all put into the higher-paying New York City MSA. Although St. Luke’s Cornwall receives more funding than it would without Section 508, Senator Schumer is working to bring it to parity with the other Orange County hospitals.