Rural Healthcare Eyes MA Reforms

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , August 8, 2012

Massachusetts, in the vanguard of healthcare reform, is at it again.

Healthcare policy wonks are trying to gauge the effects of the sweeping 349-page healthcare reform bill that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D) signed into law on Monday.  It already appears that rural healthcare providers stand to benefit specifically in at least a couple of areas.

One provision requires the any state-run public healthcare programs including Medicaid to pay critical access hospitals in Massachusetts 101% of reasonable costs, thus matching the Medicare reimbursement under the federal critical access hospital criteria.

"It recognizes the importance of critical access hospitals and reimburses them at a rate that allows them to stay in business," says State Rep. Smitty Pignatelli, (D-Lenox) the sponsor of the provision. His western Massachusetts district includes Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington, one of three critical-access hospital in the state.

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