Chautauqua County hospitals will receive $14.1 million more a year in federal funding due to a change in Medicare payments.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized a rule change that will have a nearly $1 billion annual impact for increased payments to upstate New York hospitals.
He said under the old Medicare formula for hospitals, upstate hospitals received less than the national average for the services they provide, “Albany area hospitals have been paid $0.86 on the dollar for wages compared to the national average. Other states were paid $1.20 or $1.40. California had a huge advance while we were paid less than it costs to pay our healthcare professionals. So Albany hospitals had to compete with hospitals from, say, Hartford or Boston, for doctors and nurses.”
Under the new rule, UPMC Chautauqua will receive an additional $9,836,225 each year; Brooks-TLC Hospital System will receive $3,444,566; and Westfield Memorial Hospital will receive an additional $850,340.
Schumer said hospitals will be able to hire more people with the funds which will result in better healthcare, “For too long you’d go to a hospital and they’d say, ‘We don’t have this type of a specialist. You have to travel 70 miles.’ They’d say, ‘The nurses are just overworked because we don’t have enough nurses,’ or you’d have to wait a long time because they didn’t have enough personnel. All of that will be over because now we’re getting treated fairly.”
Schumer added that hospitals would continue to receive these additional amounts each year and that there are no restrictions on how the funding can be used.
UPMC Chautauqua Media Relations Manager Karen Beardsley said in a statement in response to the news, “Like everyone, we just learned that this Medicare wage index change has been approved. This is a very positive development for UPMC Chautauqua, our patients and community. Given that the change was just announced, we will need to evaluate the specifics surrounding the increased funding proposal before creating definitive plans for the funding. As always, we will use the funding to continue to invest in services most needed for our communities.”