POTSDAM - Legislation that would prevent five hospitals, including Canton-Potsdam Hospital, from being cut out of a low-volume program has cleared a key hurdle with its passage in the Senate Finance Committee, according to a release issued this week by U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer.
Legislation introduced by Mr. Schumer, D-N.Y., must still be approved by the full Senate. If approved, it would prevent Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Alice Hyde Medical Center, Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, Nicholas H. Noyes Memorial Hospital and Oneida Healthcare Center from being removed from the Low-Volume Hospital Program. It would also grant $14 million annually to 22 upstate hospitals.
Mr. Schumer said the Low-Volume Hospital Program provides enhanced Medicare adjustments to hospital that fit the criteria, including being more than 15 road miles away from another comparable hospital and having fewer than 1,600 Medicare discharges yearly.
Mr. Schumers legislation would permanently extend the Low-Volume Hospital Program and Medicare-Dependent Hospital Program. The programs must currently be renewed every year.
David B. Acker, president and CEO at Canton-Potsdam Hospital, said he was appreciative of the senators efforts.
Rural hospitals face uncertainty from the variability associated with reimbursement and the high costs of doing business in rural regions. Low-volume hospitals operate as essential safety nets in their communities. Were very grateful to Senator Schumer for his support of this legislation. Were hopeful it passes the full Senate, he said.
Massena Memorial Hospital also receives low-volume adjustments and would benefit from the programs extension. Chief Financial Officer Jim Smith said that, in order for the hospital to qualify for the additional funding, their volume has to go down a minimum of 5 percent from the previous year.
When the volume goes down 5 percent, we lose a certain portion of money from patient revenues, some of which is made up through the low-volume adjustment, he said.
Mr. Smith said that, while they hope their volumes dont go down, the low-volume adjustment offers a little bit of protection if they do.
Mr. Schumer said he would continue to fight for the legislation until it became law.
I am thrilled that my legislation, which will provide life-saving funding to twenty-two rural hospitals in Upstate New York, has cleared this key hurdle in the Senate Finance Committee. This legislation, if it becomes law, will permanently extend the millions of dollars that these hospitals need in order to treat the high number of Medicare patients and to support rural communities. I will continue to fight for this legislation to pass the entire Senate and become law, he said.