A bill sponsored by Sen. Charles Schumer may prevent hospitals in Potsdam, Ogdensburg, Massena and Gouverneur from being cut from a low-volume subsidy program.
The Low Volume Hospital Program provides Medicare support to hospitals that are critical to rural communities, but do not necessarily serve a high volume of patients, according to a press release from Schumer’s office.
St. Lawrence County hospitals receive the following funds under the program:
• E.J. Noble Hospital of Gouverneur receives $553,000
• Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center -- $614,000
• Canton-Potsdam Hospital -- $480,000
• Massena Memorial Hospital -- $457,000
Schumer’s bill, which would make the program permanent, has passed the Senate Finance Committee but must still face the full Senate, the press release said.
Currently the program must be renewed each year. “This lack of security and certainty of this critical funding can be debilitating for these hospitals,” said the press release. Schumer’s legislation would make these payments permanent.
A total of 18 “low volume hospitals” receive $9.4 million annually through the program. A low-volume hospital is defined as one that is more than 15 road miles from another comparable hospital and has fewer than 1,600 Medicare discharges a year.
Medicare bases payments on efficient costs for provision of services, but factors beyond a providers’ control – like patient volume – may make it hard for small, isolated communities to compete with larger counterparts in efficiency.
Hospitals included in the program receive payment from Medicare on a sliding scale, and must have at least 200, but no more than 1,600, Medicare discharges in order to receive reimbursement.
“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,” said Schumer.