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Hospitals face hundred of thousands in possible sequester cuts

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MASSENA - Area hospitals stand to lose hundreds of thousands in Medicare reimbursements if lawmakers fail to reach a deal his week to avert the sequester.

As part of the $85 billion package of spending cuts, set to take effect Friday, Medicare reimbursements would be cut by 2 percent, an action that would cost New York hospitals approximately $2 billion over the next 10 years.

Massena Memorial Hospital stands to lose $190,000 in 2013 if the sequester is passed through Congress, according to Tina Corcoran, senior director of public relations and planning at MMH.

MMH Chief Executive Officer Charles F. Fahd said the cuts are equitable for all hospitals in the region. “Everybody’s facing pretty much the same thing” with the sequester cuts, Mr. Fahd said.

Canton-Potsdam Hospital officials are preparing for a loss of $3.5 million over 10 years, or almost $400,000 per year, said Rebecca Faer, director of corporate communications at CPH. The hospital would be hit the hardest this year because those cuts would take place over a shorter period of time, Ms. Faer said.

CPH officials plan to look for areas where they can reduce expenses to offset the sequester cuts. Hospital officials routinely undergo process-improvement analyses to identify areas where they can cut expenses or generate new revenue, Ms. Faer said.

“We’re always searching for ways to provide quality healthcare economically,” Ms. Faer said. “However, these would be substantial cuts.”

Ms. Faer added that CPH officials are against the sequester.

Medicare reimbursements represent roughly 39 percent of the budgeted revenue at MMH and CPH, according to hospital officials.

And although the sequester might still be avoided, MMH officials expect to see revenue cuts from any deal that would avoid the sequester.

“We’re not sure which devil we want to see come to fruition, whether or not we want to see the sequestration — with 2 percent cuts across the board, and to know what that’s going to be and what that’s going to cost us — or whatever else they put together to offset the sequestration,” Mr. Fahd said.

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