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Local News

April 8, 2014

Schumer: Bill will help stave off cuts at hospitals

Two area hospitals will benefit from recently passed legislation that will help fund ambulance providers and rural hospitals in upstate New York through April 2015, a media release said.

On April 1, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., announced that the U.S. Senate had passed his bill to extend payments to 21 rural New York hospitals and ambulance service providers as part of the Sustainable Growth Rate, or “Doc Fix” bill, the release said. The bill now awaits President Barack Obama’s signature. The UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital in Norwich and the Cobleskill Regional Hospital are two of the 21 facilities that will receive funding. 

UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Drake Lamen said the bill reinstates the Medicare Dependent Hospital and Low Volume Add-Ons, from which the 58-bed hospital has benefited for the past four years.

The bills repeatedly “sunset,” or expire, and are then reinstated again, Lamen said. The hospital counts on such funding to continue offering its services.

“We at UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital are grateful to have this funding in place,” Lamen said. “It is essential to helping us continue to provide high quality health care services to our community.”

Through the Medicare-Dependent Hospital Program, hospitals are paid by Medicare with a special rate because of the fact that most of their patients are Medicare patients, the release said. These payments allow hospitals like Chenango Memorial greater financial stability and allow them to better serve the community.

Through the Low-Volume Hospital Program, hospitals that are critical to their communities but do not serve a large number of patients can receive funding. A low-volume hospital is defined as being more than 15 miles from another comparable hospital and having fewer than 1,600 Medicare discharges per year, the release said. Since 1988, the Medicare program has recognized that these kinds of hospitals need extra support and funding so they can continue to serve rural communities.

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