Hospital Medicare Funds Get Bipartisan Push

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , December 12, 2012

The cost is a bit pricier for low-volume hospitals, about $450 million over 10 years, according to some estimates. Elehwany says that and other issues could make securing funding for low-volume hospitals particularly tricky.

"The low-volume hospitals were expanded under the healthcare reform bill, so they sort of have those thumbprints on them," she says. "It went from applying to just 19 hospitals across the country to about 650 or so. Some folks say we overshot the target and that maybe it applies to too many hospitals now. There are some on Capitol Hill trying to look for a happy compromise between that 19 and 650 figure but we don't know what that is going to be."

With so much at stake, Elehwany is urging local hospital leaders to contact their members of Congress to voice their support for S. 2620.   

"We are telling them to touch base with us weekly. We have grassroots calls target lists for the House and Senate every Wednesday at noon," she says. "We are doing state-by-state outreach making sure hospitals know what is happening in this lame duck session and what is at stake."

Elehwany says most hospital administrators are so busy providing care that they don't realize all of the federal provisions and funding sources that are at risk. "For the Medicare-dependent hospital it can mean about a 12.6% average loss to a facility," she says.

"Because they are depending upon Medicare for at least 60% and in some cases 80% of their revenues, they would have to make up at least 20% from their private payer patients. That is not happening, so we think some of these hospitals are going to close if this is lost."

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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