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March 13, 2013

Border, Medicare among local sequester concerns

PLATTSBURGH — Medicare reimbursements and cross-border travel are two main local concerns about federal sequester cuts.

Those funding decreases went into effect March 1 under the provisions of the Budget Control Act of 2011. The across-the-board spending cuts were to take place Jan. 1 but were postponed during the fiscal-cliff negotiations.

Local hospitals and doctors will face a 2 percent reduction in their Medicare reimbursements, scheduled to start April 1.

CVPH Director of Public Relations Mike Hildebran said on Tuesday that if the impact of sequestration is limited to the expected 2 percent cut in Medicare reimbursement, as is planned, it will cost CVPH about $1.6 million this year. 

However, hospital officials anticipated that might occur and included that amount in its 2013 budget, though still hoping the cut might not take place.

“Over the year, (if the cuts don’t happen) that would mean our reimbursement for Medicare services would be approximately $133,000 more per month than anticipated,” Hildebran said by email. “Since it costs more than $800,000 a day to run CVPH, that would be nice but not exactly like someone winning the lottery.”

‘TOO SOON TO KNOW’

Adirondack Health spokesman Joe Riccio said they are facing about $500,000 in revenue reduction this year under sequestration. 

That, he said, is in addition to the $1.2 million in revenue decreases that resulted from the fiscal-cliff negotiations.

Riccio said it is too soon to know if that would result in job losses or service cuts.

“(But), we are currently conducting a broad evaluation of all aspects of Adirondack Health to ensure we can continue providing high-quality, patient-centered care to the Tri-Lakes region of northern New York,” he said by email.

U.S. BORDER ISSUES

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection arm has posted a number of fact sheets on its website about the impacts of sequestration. The information includes a letter dated March 2 from Customs and Border Protection Deputy Commissioner David Aguilar to representatives of trade- and travel-industry groups.

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