Funds reinstated in federal hospital program good news for Oneida Healthcare

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ONEIDA — A reimbursement program cut by the federal government in October is back until at least 2022, which is good news for Oneida Healthcare.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer announced he included language in the recently passed federal budget bill to reinstate the Low-Volume Hospital program. It was originally scheduled to go until 2020 before it was discontinued, but has now been extended to 2022.

The budget secures $2,184,900 for Oneida Healthcare through 2022, according to the news release from New York’s senior senator. A total of 19 hospitals in New York are slated to receive renewed funding through this program.

Along with the Medicare-Dependent Hospital Program, funding for the Low-Volume Hospital Program expired in October, potentially undermining the financial stability of rural hospitals dependent on such reimbursements. However, because they were added to the budget agreement passed earlier this month, both programs will now continue to be funded for five years.

The Low-Volume Hospital program offers hospitals that treat a low number of Medicare beneficiaries a payment formula that recognizes the fixed costs of treating these patients relative to the prospective payment system that favors high patient volume. It is Medicare’s way of trying to ensure that rural hospitals have enough money to take care of Medicare patients and others.

The Medicare Dependent Hospital designation helps rural hospitals that otherwise would struggle to maintain financial stability under Medicare’s fee schedule because of their small size and the large share of Medicare beneficiaries who make up their patient base. The extension of the program benefits four New York hospitals, according to the senator.

“The inclusion of five-year extensions of two at-risk federal health care programs, both of which are critical to the financial stability of rural hospitals across the state, is great news for New Yorkers,” said Schumer. “These hospitals serve a vital public need, employ several thousand New Yorkers across the state, and they deserve our support and long-term certainty in their continuous efforts to provide the highest level of care to residents.”

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