Cobleskill Regional Hospital is one such low-volume hospital. According to its website, the 40-bed nonprofit hospital, which is affiliated with the Bassett Healthcare Network, is open seven days a week and is the only hospital in Schoharie County, making it the only provider of acute inpatient medical care, emergency care, short-stay inpatient rehabilitation and many other diagnostic and therapeutic health care services.
Karen Huxtable-Hooker, Bassett Medical Center’s public and media relations director, said Cobleskill Regional Hospital received $635,000 through the Low-Volume Hospital Program in 2013, and $610,000 is budgeted for 2014. The Senate action extending the program is very important, she said.
“There is a higher percentage of Medicare recipients living in rural regions, and so rural hospitals like Cobleskill Regional Hospital are more dependent on Medicare revenue,” Huxtable-Hooker said. “The Low-Volume Hospital Program recognizes that there are certain factors that influence the cost of providing services that are out of the control of hospitals like CRH. Patient volume is one such factor — providers in smaller, rural regions cannot achieve the economies of scale that their larger urban counterparts can.”
Without the bill’s extension of payment, hospitals such as the UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital and Cobleskill Regional Hospital would have suffered, Schumer said in the media release. Extending the payments to hospitals and ambulance providers was timely and sorely needed, he said.
Because the bill was extended, ambulance providers will also be able to continue providing reliable, life-saving services, the release said. According to the release, Medicare payments to private, nonprofit and volunteer ambulance providers barely keep up with the cost of equipment upgrades, yet funding was set to be reduced by three percent for rural areas on April 1, 2014.
This would likely cause ambulance service providers to cut their staff, not be able to properly stock ambulances with important equipment and drugs, or even have to remove an ambulance and crew from service, which would lead to even longer response times, the release said.