04.16.15

SCHUMER ANNOUNCES CRITICAL LEGISLATION CLEARS CONGRESS THAT PROVIDES $16 MILLION PER YEAR IN MEDICARE PAYMENTS TO RURAL UPSTATE NY HOSPITALS – SCHUMER INTRODUCED BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION TO AVOID CRIPPLING CUTS IN FUNDING, WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN DISASTROUS FOR JOBS, HOSPITALS, QUALITY OF CARE ACROSS THE STATE

Schumer Led Legislation to Extend Key Rural Hospital Support Programs for Hospitals That Treat New Yorkers Who Rely Heavily on Medicare & Other Critical-Care Programs; Low Volume Hospital (LVH) and Medicare Dependent Hospital (MDH) Programs will provide a total of 20 hospitals across New York State With Over $34 Million Over the Next 2.5 Years   

Rural Hospitals Count on This Funding Each Year; Additional Funding Stream Would Have Expired if Congress Failed to Act – These Hospitals Treat Tens of Thousands of Patients & Some Were Facing Cuts of Over $1 Million, A Tough Pill For Any To Swallow

Schumer: Rural Hospitals Will Now Have the Fed Funds They Need to Continue Providing Quality Health Care Across the State

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced today that critical legislation to extend a Medicare payment program, essential to the health of rural hospitals across Upstate New York through 2017, has cleared Congress. Schumer explained that the Low Volume Hospital (LVH) and Medicare Dependent Hospital (MDH) Programs will provide a total of 20 hospitals across New York State with over $34 million over the next 2.5 years.  

Schumer said this measure was included as part of must-pass legislation this month called the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015 and is essential because the hospitals are often under serious financial pressure due to a lower volume of patients than their urban and suburban counterparts and they also receive a higher percentage of Medicare beneficiaries. This additional funding for these hospitals expired this month and Schumer introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in January 2015 to extend these programs permanently. Schumer said that these hospitals play a major role in keeping quality of care high across New York State and are a critical source of jobs, therefore any cut to the program would be a disastrous blow. The hospitals that receive funding through these programs serve tens of thousands of people annually and would have faced cuts as high as $1 million to their bottom line.

“The inclusion of this provision to extend two federal programs – both of which are critical to the financial stability of rural hospitals across the state – in must-pass legislation is great news for New Yorkers. These hospitals serve a vital public need, employ several thousand New Yorkers across the state, and they deserve our support in their continuous efforts to provide the highest level of care to residents,” said Senator Schumer. “Letting this funding lapse would have put our hospitals, patients, and employees in the lurch, and could have effectively pulled the plug on a lifeline for rural hospitals all over the country. Extending these programs as long as we can was a no-brainer, and that is why I have pushed my colleagues in Congress to pass this extension since January. Thanks to this legislation, these hospitals can continue to provide high-quality healthcare and serve as the lifeblood of rural communities across New York through 2017.”

“HANYS is grateful that once again Senator Schumer has led the way in Congress in protecting our essential community hospitals and the patients they serve,” said Dennis Whalen, President of the Healthcare Association of New York State. “The 30 month extension of the MDH and LV programs will preserve access to high-quality hospital care for patients in many rural and small communities across New York State.”

Schumer explained that there are two federal programs, the Low Volume Hospital (LVH) Program and the Medicare Dependent Hospital (MDH) Program, that provide hospitals in rural areas – including a total of 20 hospitals throughout New York State – with the funding they need to continue essential healthcare services in communities that would otherwise not have options. New York hospitals receive approximately $15 million per year in Medicare funds through the LVH and MDH Programs. These funds enable these rural hospitals to serve tens of thousands of patients every year. Schumer said that, due to their location in rural areas, these hospitals serve a vital public need, and should be supported so that they can maintain a high level of care for residents.

Schumer has long been a champion of the LVH and MDH programs. He has often fought to secure federal funds that allow New York’s rural hospitals to continue providing quality health care to residents in these communities, including most recently in April 2014, when Schumer successfully passed a bill that extended Medicare payments to 21 rural hospitals around New York for one year, meaning these critical payments to hospitals would continue until April 1, 2015. Specifically, the Low-Volume Hospital (LVH) Program provides additional Medicare payments to the rural hospitals that are critical to the community but may not serve a high volume of patients, therefore making it harder to achieve economies of scale. The Medicare Dependent Hospital (MDH) Program provides additional Medicare payments to hospitals who mainly serve Medicare patients, bringing greater financial stability to the hospital and leaving them better able to serve these rural communities. For over 25 years, the federal government has provided funds to rural hospitals that qualify for these two programs through its dedicated Medicare funding stream in order to make sure they can provide a high quality of care to rural residents.

Schumer said that these hospitals are a critical source of jobs and they play a major role in keeping quality of care high across New York State, therefore any cut to the program would be disastrous for rural communities and local workforces. According to the National Rural Health Association, hospitals are one of the two biggest employers in rural areas and nationwide roughly 14 percent of total employment in rural communities is attributed to the health sector. Schumer said that, in the past, a closed hospital has meant as much as a 20 percent loss of revenue for the local rural economy, a drop in the per capita income, and an increase in local unemployment. Schumer said that while all of these hospitals and health care providers have balanced investing for the future with implementing cost reduction programs, significant cuts in these two Medicare programs could have led to hospitals and medical centers ultimately reducing services and employment. If the LVH and MDH programs were to expire, cuts could be as high as $1.5 million for each hospital.

Together the LVH and MDH programs will support a total of 20 hospitals in New York that serve tens of thousands of patients, and provide a total of roughly $34 million over the next 2.5 years. According to the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS), the following hospitals, as of 2015, were at risk of losing funding if the LVH and MDH programs are allowed to expire. The table below also includes approximately how much funding was on the line for each hospital over the next 2.5 years:

Hospital                                                                      County                                     Funding at Risk

Adirondack Medical Center                         St. Lawrence County                     $2,300,000

Alice Hyde Medical Center                           Franklin County                          $1,500,000

Bertrand Chaffee Hospital                              Erie County                            $624,000

Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center                 St. Lawrence County                     $1,500,000

Cobleskill Regional Hospital                         Schoharie County                       $1,300,000

Corning Hospital                                        Steuben County                        $1,700,000

Eastern Long Island Hospital                         Suffolk County                         $1,900,000

Ira Davenport Memorial Hospital                   Steuben County                        $1,300,000

Jones Memorial Hospital                             Allegany County                        $1,600,000

Massena Memorial Hospital                        St. Lawrence County                    $1,300,000

Nathan Littauer Hospital                              Fulton County                          $3,200,000

Nicholas H. Noyes Memorial Hospital            Livingston County                       $1,100,000

Oneida Healthcare Center                           Madison County                         $850,000

Orleans Community Health                          Orleans County                         $1,400,000

St. James Mercy Hospital                            Steuben County                        $1,300,000

St. Joseph's Hospital of Elmira                    Chemung County                        $1,900,000

St. Mary's Healthcare                                  Fulton County                          $2,800,000

UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital                 Chenango County                       $4,100,000

Westfield Memorial Hospital                        Chautauqua County                    $137,000

Wyoming County Community Health System    Wyoming County                      $2,000,000

TOTAL                                                                                                                            $34,800,000

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