FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 8, 2012
SCHUMER: KEY PROGRAM PROVIDING OVER $1.7 MILLION IN MEDICARE PAYMENTS TO ROCHESTER-AREAHOSPITALS SET TO EXPIRE – INTRODUCES BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION TO EXTEND MEDICARE PROGRAMS CRITICAL TO 3 RURAL HOSPITALS IN THE ROCHESTER REGION
Without Action, Wyoming County Community Health System, Orleans Community Health & Nicholas H. Noyes Memorial Hospital Would Lose Medicare Funding This Year
Schumer Legislation Would Extend Programs to Support Rural Hospitals That Treat High Number of Medicare Patients & That Are Critical to Rural Communities
Schumer: This Proposal Will Keep Rural Communities on the Frontlines of Quality Health Care
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced legislation that will extend two Medicare payment programs that are critical to rural hospitals in the Rochester-area and across Upstate New York, and that are set to expire this year. The Medicare-Dependent Hospital Program provides support to nine hospitals in New York that treat a high number of Medicare patients, and allows greater financial stability in serving their communities. The Low Volume Hospital Program impacts 24 hospitals across New York, and provides Medicare support to hospitals that are very important to rural communities, though do not necessarily serve a high volume of patients. Each of these programs is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2012, and Schumer’s legislation, which he introduced with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), would extend these programs for one additional year.
In the Rochester region, 3 hospitals rely on the Low Volume Hospital Program for their stability and ability to provide high quality healthcare. There are no hospitals in the region that count on the Medicare-Dependent Hospital Program. A breakdown of the funds each hospital received last year appears below:
Low-Volume Hospital Program:
· Wyoming County Community Health System -- $744,000
· Orleans Community Health -- $416,000
· Nicholas H. Noyes Memorial Hospital -- $628,500
“Rural hospitals are the lifeblood of rural economies throughout upstate New York, and they deserve our support. Efficiently supporting our rural hospitals and their patients allows medical facilities in the Rochester area to continue providing high quality health services, and is pivotal for our community and our economy,” said Schumer. “The continued existence of these Medicare programs is critical to the financial stability of hospitals in the Rochester region, and will help enhance quality of life in our rural communities. We cannot let these programs end, and I will fight tooth and nail to provide New York’s rural hospitals with the support they deserve.”
"The legislation introduced today by Senator Charles Schumer is a critical extension of two Medicare provisions for certain small hospitals that would ensure access to care for patients in their predominantly rural communities around the state,” Daniel Sisto, President of the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS). “Once again, Senator Schumer steps up to the plate to lead on behalf of New York hospitals and the patients for whom they provide services from primary care to the most complex acute care.”
“Senator Schumer’s proposed legislation extending the Medicare low-volume hospital payment adjustment is critical to the continued success of Western New York rural hospitals such as Wyoming County Community Hospital (WCCHS),” said Wyoming County Community Hospital Chief Executive Officer Donald T. Eichenauer. “In recent years WCCHS has received approximately $500,000 as part of its Medicare low-volume adjustment and the loss of these funds could have a significant impact on the care we are able to provide in our community. We are hopeful that Senator Schumer’s legislation will quickly pass so we are able to continue to plan for and provide quality care without having to consider further adjustments to services.”
“The extension of the low volume adjustment proposed by Senator Schumer is critical to hospitals like Noyes Memorial Hospital which is the only hospital in Livingston County,” Amy E. Pollard RN, BSN, MPS, President & CEO of Nicholas H. Noyes Memorial Hospital. “Over the years, Noyes, has implemented many cost reduction programs but eventually the next step is reducing services. The low volume adjustment helps close the gap that will prevent loss of services. From all of us at Noyes, many thanks to Senator Schumer for protecting health care in Livingston and surrounding counties.”
“Orleans Community Health appreciates the continued support and leadership of legislatures like Senator Schumer who truly understand the challenges facing rural hospitals in Western New York,” said James Sinner, President and CEO of Orleans Community Health. “His support is very much appreciated by our small healthcare system and certainly the community that we serve.”
Medicare-Dependent Hospital Program:
Congress established the Medicare-dependent hospital (MDH) program in 1987. There are approximately 200 MDHs in the United States and nine in New York State. These NY hospitals receive $8.7 million annually from this program. These hospitals are paid by Medicare with a special rate to address the fact that most of their patients are Medicare patients. These payments allow MDHs greater financial stability and leave them better able to serve their communities. A hospital qualifies for the MDH program if it is located in a rural area, has no more than 100 beds, is not classified as a Sole Community Hospital, and has at least 60 percent of inpatient days or discharges covered by Medicare.
This program expires September 30 2012. Schumer’s bill will extend the program for one year.
The network of providers that serves rural Americans is fragile and more dependent on Medicare revenue because of the high percentage of Medicare beneficiaries who live in rural areas. Additionally, rural residents on average tend to be older, have lower incomes and suffer from higher rates of chronic illness than their urban counterparts. This greater dependence on Medicare may make certain rural hospitals more financially vulnerable to prospective payment. To reduce this risk and support small rural hospitals for which Medicare patients make up a significant percentage of inpatient days or discharges
Low Volume Hospital Program:
Low volume hospitals are those that are critical to the community but may not serve a high volume of patients. Since 1988, the Medicare program has recognized that these hospitals need additional support so that they can continue to provide high quality care to rural communities. A low-volume hospital is defined as one that is more than 15 road miles from another comparable hospital and has less than 1,600 Medicare discharges are year.
Medicare seeks to pay efficient providers their costs of furnishing services. However, certain factors beyond providers’ control can affect the costs of furnishing services. Patient volume is one such factor and is particularly relevant in small and isolated communities where providers frequently cannot achieve the economies of scale possible for their larger counterparts.
There are approximately 24 hospitals in New York that qualify for the low-volume hospital program.
Schumer’s bill would extend the additional payments for low volume hospitals for one year.