Upstate members introduce fix for rural hospitals

July 12, 2019 0 By vaughngolden

Some upstate hospitals may see some relief after a bipartisan bill introduced by three New York members of Congress attempts to clear up some bureaucratic confusion.

Many hospitals across upstate don’t see enough patients to survive on their own. So, they receive what’s called a Volume Decrease Adjustment from Medicaid and Medicare payments in order to make up for the loss and keep the doors open.

In 2015, the federal agency in charge of administering the program made a ruling in a case, instructing contractors to reevaluate old payments under the Volume Decrease Adjustment and recuperate money if they allocated too much. New York’s contractor made an error, overpaying rural hospitals between $15 million and $20 million. Now, the federal government wants that money back, and lawmakers like Democratic Congressman Anthony Brindisi aren’t happy.

“That’s flat out wrong because these hospitals are truly the lifeline of these small communities and without them people have no place to get their healthcare and we’re also going to lose some of the most major employers in these smaller counties,” Brindisi told WRVO.

He introduced the bill along with southern tier Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) and north country Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.). The proposed legislation would clarify the law governing the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services so that the 2015 ruling is clarified and the hospitals wouldn’t have to pay for the old miscalculations.

“I think it’s a common sense measure,” Brindisi said. “Nobody wants to see these hospitals go out of business.”

Reed says that passing it could be tough, but it isn’t so much a partisan issue.

“I think there’s traction there,” Rep. Reed said of the vote. “It’s not a Democrat-Republican situation, it’s more of a rural-urban situation in particular.”

If it makes it to the Senate, it could get some help from Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) who has brought up the issue the last few years.

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