Healthcare Bill Includes Critical Medicare Fix to help NEPA Hospitals

Health Insurance Reform Bill Extends National Wage Index Reclassification Program; will provide an estimated $30 million in Medicare Reimbursements to Region

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey announced that the health insurance reform bill signed by President Obama today includes an important Medicare fix which will affect northeastern Pennsylvania hospitals.  The Medicare provision corrects what would have been a disastrous gap in Medicare reimbursements to many hospitals across the nation, including 12 northeastern Pennsylvania hospitals. 

The provision, which will result in approximately $30 million in Medicare reimbursements for northeastern Pennsylvania hospitals, extends Section 508 of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 wage index reclassification program.   The program is necessary for equitable and adequate Medicare reimbursement for twelve hospitals in the northeastern region as well as others across the nation.  Originally set to expire on September 30, 2009, the healthcare bill extends the reclassification reimbursements until September 30, 2010. In order to avoid a gap in payments to the hospitals, the extension is retroactive to October 1, 2009.

“Northeastern Pennsylvania hospitals deserve fair and adequate Medicare reimbursement,” Specter said.  “It’s fitting that the healthcare bill includes this critical extension to address the hospitals’ financial distress and ensure Northeastern Pennsylvanians’ access to quality health care.”

“I’m pleased my colleagues worked collaboratively on this important issue to find a solution to this wage index problem,” said Casey.  “This extension in the healthcare bill will help guarantee hospitals are properly and justly compensated for the critical work they do in ensuring the health and care of Northeastern Pennsylvanians.”

Senators Specter and Casey will continue to work to find a long-term solution to the Medicare reimbursement disparity so that local hospitals can pay competitive salaries to attract and keep top-notch staff, as well as avoid budget deficits.

# # #