Massena, Gouverneur, Ogdensburg, Canton-Potsdam hospitals included in U.S. budget deal to extend some rural Medicaid payments
Friday, December 20, 2013 - 6:11 am

Four St. Lawrence County hospitals and many upstate ambulance services will see some Medicare funding restored, at least temporarily.

The relief comes in provisions from Sen. Charles Schumer that are in the bipartisan budget deal approved in the House and Senate.

Massena Memorial Hospital, Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center in Ogdensburg, Canton-Potsdam Hospital, and E.J. Noble Hospital of Gouverneur are among 22 Low-Volume and Medicare-Dependent hospitals in New York which had already seen their special reimbursement payments expire on Sept. 30, and ambulance providers’ payments are set to expire on Dec. 31.

Low volume hospitals are those that are critical to the community but may not serve a high volume of patients, are more than 15 road miles from another comparable hospital, and have fewer than 1,600 Medicare discharges a year, according to a news release from Sen. Schumer’s office. Since 1988, the Medicare program has recognized that these hospitals need additional support so that they can continue to provide high quality care to rural communities.

Payments under the program to St. Lawrence County hospitals have amounted to about half a million dollars a year each.

The ambulance program reimbursement provisions in the bill will restore some payments to ambulance services, including volunteer services, which had been reduced in recent years but which Congress had seen fit to adjust upwards. This is particularly important in rural areas, Schumer said, due to the longer distances they must travel.

In the recently approved short-term budget measure, which the president is expected to sign, the payments are extended through next March.

Schumer says he will use the upcoming months to fight for long-term funding for each program.