A federal program designed to help rural hospitals is one step closer to becoming permanent law, much to the delight of North Country health-care officials.
“Sen. Schumer has been a champion on this issue, and without his support, it would be very difficult to resolve this issue,” Adirondack Medical Center spokesman Joseph Riccio said Monday.
“These programs recognize the funding challenges we face as rural health-care providers, and Sen. Schumer gets that.”
Riccio was referring to legislation sponsored by U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York to permanently extend two Medicare payment programs that are critical to rural hospitals in Upstate New York.
The bill has cleared a key hurdle with its passage in the Senate Finance Committee, according to a news release from Schumer’s office.
The programs must be renewed every year.
Schumer’s legislation would make these payments for both low-volume hospitals and Medicare-dependent hospitals permanent.
Schumer’s legislation must now pass the full Senate.
The Low-Volume Hospital Program impacts 18 New York hospitals that provide Medicare support important to rural communities but do not necessarily serve a high volume of patients, the release said.
A low-volume hospital is defined as one that is more than 15 road miles from another comparable hospital and has fewer than 1,600 Medicare discharges a year.
Adirondack Medical Center, which serves Saranac Lake, Lake Placid and Tupper Lake areas, is one of those 18 hospitals. It receives $781,000 under the program.
Schumer also helped prevent five low-volume hospitals from being cut from this program: Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone, Nicholas H. Noyes Memorial Hospital in Dansville, Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center in Ogdensburg, Oneida Healthcare Center in Oneida and Canton-Potsdam Hospital in Potsdam.
These hospitals receive payment from Medicare on a sliding scale and must have at least 200 but no more than 1,600 Medicare discharges in order to receive reimbursement.
Alice Hyde receives $491,000 under the program.
“I am thrilled that my legislation, which will provide life-saving funding to 22 rural hospitals in Upstate New York, has cleared this key hurdle in the Senate Finance Committee,” Schumer said in his release.
“This legislation, if it becomes law, will permanently extend the millions of dollars that these hospitals need in order to treat the high number of Medicare patients and to support rural communities. I will continue to fight for this legislation to pass the entire Senate and become law.”
The 18 low-volume hospitals in the program receive $9.4 million annually, Schumer’s release said.
Since 1988, the Medicare program has recognized that these hospitals need additional support so they can continue to provide high-quality care to rural communities, he said.
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