Chenango Memorial Hospital is grateful not to be losing a portion of its Medicare funding this year.
It was in danger of having to absorb a $1.8 million cut because there was uncertainty regarding the future of two federal programs. Chenango Memorial, based in Norwich, gets money from the Low Volume Hospital Program, which helps support healthcare systems in rural communities. And, from the Medicare Dependent Hospital Program, which is aimed at hospitals that serve a large number of people on Medicare.
Democratic US Senator Chuck Schumer stopped by the hospital to make the funding restoration announcement. He worked with a Republican Senator from Iowa to push the legislation through. Schumer says, "It was bi-partisan. We're both senior members of the finance committee. That gave us a lot of clout in order to do it. Obviously, Iowa has a lot of hospitals in rural areas as well."
Doctor Drake Lamen is the President of Chenango Memorial. He says the $1.8 million cut would have been extremely difficult to absorb. Staff reductions would have been likely. Chenango Memorial typically operates with a bottom line of about one million dollars a year. That revenue money is reinvested in the hospital, including technology upgrades, which Lamen says are essential. Here's a potential problem though, Congress only extended the programs for one year. As a result, Chenango Memorial faces the possibility of losing that money next year. It's also bracing for more cuts in the future.
Dr. Drake Lamen says, "The fact is, healthcare reform, we anticipate 20-million dollars in reduction in Medicare monies over the next 10 years out of the Affordable Care Act. Each year going forward we are looking at 1 to 3 million dollars decreasing revenue, assuming that this still stays even, and if wasn't then we would be looking at 37 million dollars decreased revenues from Medicare over the next 10 years."
There are still many unknowns for all hospitals on how the federal healthcare reform law will impact funding sources.