First the bad news: Supplemental payments to Medicare-dependent hospitals will expire on Oct. 1, the start of the federal fiscal year, because a do-nothing Congress failed to extend the provision before it adjourned last week.
This means, of course, that a critical funding source is no longer available for the 212 rural hospitals across the nation that are classified as Medicare-dependent and that need those payments to keep their doors open.
Now, the good news: It is highly likely that when Congress returns on Nov. 13 it will pass the bipartisan Senate Bill 2620 (HR 5943), which will renew for one year funding for Medicare-dependent and low-volume hospitals. Assuming the bill passes, those additional MDH payments that would have gone into effect on Oct. 1 are expected to be added retroactively.
Maggie Elehwany, government affairs and policy vice president for the National Rural Health Association, acknowledges that inaction in Washington, DC has left rural providers "in a lurch," but she is upbeat about the prospects for the bill.