Rep. Tom Reed Bill Protects Area Rural Hospitals from Funding Loss
Rep. Tom Reed was at Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville Thursday to discuss the Rural Hospital Access Act of 2013, a bill Reed introduced to reauthorize the Medicare-dependent hospital and enhanced low-volume hospital programs to ensure rural hospitals in the area continue to make high quality care available to patients. These programs are facing expiration at the end of the year if Congress does not act.
“In the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes, so many of us depend on these rural hospitals for our own care, and for the care of our family members,” Reed said. “It’s vitally important to our communities that we stand up for our smaller hospitals to get them on a level playing field with larger ones, and get them the fair funding they need and deserve.”
New York’s 23rd Congressional District has three Medicare-dependent hospitals: Corning Hospital, Ira Davenport, and St. Joseph’s of Elmira. Medicare-dependent hospitals are defined as those with 100 beds or fewer for which Medicare patients make up at least 60 percent of inpatient or discharges.
The district is also home to three low-volume hospitals: Jones Memorial, Ira Davenport, and St. James Mercy. To be considered low-volume, a hospital must be more than 15 road miles from another comparable hospital and have up to 1,600 Medicare discharges annually.
Daniel Sisto, President of the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) said, "Once again Representative Reed has taken the lead in supporting New York's rural and small community hospitals and the communities they serve by introducing legislation to extend the critical Medicare Dependent Hospital and Medicare Low Volume Hospital Programs. Successful in his efforts earlier this year to temporarily extend these important programs, Mr. Reed is leading the way in the U. S. House of Representatives to lengthen each program's extension to help ensure patient access to services and economic stability in these communities."
“Without extending these programs, the loss of funding for rural hospitals would make it even more difficult for them to serve our communities and cost jobs locally,” Reed continued. “That’s why I’m leading the push to again reauthorize the Medicare-dependent hospital program and the enhanced low-volume Medicare adjustment for prospective payment system (PPS) hospitals and safeguard their funding adjustments.”
Reed’s bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Peter Welch (D-VT) in the House, was also introduced in the Senate by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
If this legislation were not introduced, Medicare-dependent hospitals in New York would lose $6.6 million and low-volume hospitals would lose $11.1 million. Reed introduced a similar bill last year to ensure funding for these rural hospitals was extended.
Wednesday, Reed was at Hospice Chautauqua County introducing another health care bill, the Hospice Evaluation and Legitimate Payment (HELP) Act, to keep hospice center doors open and improve end of life care for seniors.