WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congress has renewed a program that extends money to rural hospitals across the country, including Oneida Healthcare Center in Madison County, according to a federal announcement.
In all, 20 hospitals across the state will benefit from the program, according to U.S. Charles E. Schumer, D-NY.
The program’s renewal means $34 million in funding will be split among the nearly two-dozen facilities over the next two years. Under the legislation, $850,000 in funding has been secured for Oneida Healthcare.
In January a bill was introduced by Schumer and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to make permanent the Low Volume Hospital and Medicare Dependent Hospital programs.
The programs, which now have to be renewed annually, were due to expire this month, officials said. According to Schumer. the process that required annual votes in Congress led to budgetary uncertainty for the medical centers.
The bill approved as part of this month’s Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 extends the programs through 2017.
“Letting this funding lapse would have put our hospitals, patients and employees in the lurch, and could have effectively pulled the plug on a lifeline for rural hospitals all over the country,” said Schumer.
“Thanks to this legislation, these hospitals can continue to provide high-quality health care and serve as the lifeblood of rural communities across New York through 2017.”
News of the bill’s passage pleased Dennis P. Whalen, president of the Healthcare Association of New York State.
“HANYS is grateful that once again Sen. Schumer has led the way in Congress in protecting our essential community hospitals and the patients they serve,” he said.
“The 30-month extension of the MDH and LV programs will preserve access to high-quality hospital care for patients in many rural and small communities across New York state,” the healthcare association president added.