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Proposal would extend rural hospital support

May 23, 2012
Westfield Republican

WASHINGTON D.C. - U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced legislation on Tuesday, May 8 which will extend two Medicare payment programs critical to rural hospitals in Western New York and across Upstate New York and are set to expire this year.

The Medicare-Dependent Hospital Program provides support to nine hospitals in New York that treat a high number of Medicare patients, and allows greater financial stability in serving their communities. The Low Volume Hospital Program impacts 24 hospitals across New York and provides Medicare support to hospitals that are very important to rural communities, though do not necessarily serve a high volume of patients. Each of these programs is set to expire on Sept. 30 and Schumer's legislation, which he introduced with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), would extend these programs for one additional year.

In Western New York, four hospitals count on the Low Volume Hospital Program for their stability and ability to provide high quality healthcare. There are no hospitals in the region that count on the Medicare-Dependent Hospital Program. A breakdown of the funds each hospital received last year appears below:

Westfield Memorial Hospital - $67,500

Brooks Memorial Hospital - $534,500

Bertrand Chaffee Hospital - $259,600

TLC Health Network - $165,600

"Rural hospitals are the lifeblood of rural economies throughout upstate New York, and they deserve our support," said Schumer. "Efficiently supporting our rural hospitals and their patients allows medical facilities across Western New York to continue providing high quality health services, and is pivotal for our community and our economy. The continued existence of these Medicare programs is critical to the financial stability of hospitals across Western New York, and will help enhance quality of life in our rural communities. We cannot let these programs end, and I will fight tooth and nail to provide New York's rural hospitals with the support they deserve."

"The legislation introduced today by Senator Charles Schumer is a critical extension of two Medicare provisions for certain small hospitals that would ensure access to care for patients in their predominantly rural communities around the state," Daniel Sisto, President of the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS), said. "Once again, Senator Schumer steps up to the plate to lead on behalf of New York hospitals and the patients for whom they provide services from primary care to the most complex acute care."

"This bipartisan effort spearheaded by Senator Schumer would preserve over $700,000 in payments Brooks Memorial Hospital and Lake Shore Health Care Center, a member of TLC Health Network," Jonathan Lawrence, MHA, FACHE, President and CEO of Lake Erie Regional Health System, said. "The passage of this legislation is absolutely essential to maintaining high quality health care services and the health care jobs that are essential to the physical, social and economic well-being of the communities we serve. As rural NYS hospitals are increasingly forced to operate on the brink of solvency, we are grateful to Senator Schumer for his continued advocacy and steadfast support."



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