Local Hospitals Brace For Sequestration

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Massena Memorial Hospital stands to lose nearly $2 million in federal Medicare reimbursements over the next 10 years if Congress doesn't act to prevent or delay automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.

Hospital Chief Executive Officer Charles Fahd says a financial hit like that will be difficult, if not impossible, to recoup.

"These cuts are essentially designed, in my eyes anyway, to reduce the number of healthcare facilities that there are in the United States for more collaboration, more affiliation, more mergers," said Fahd.

The Healthcare Association of New York estimates the financial impact on hospitals throughout the state at more than $2 billion collectively through the year 2021.

At Massena Memorial, administrators are in the early stages of exploring whether to turn the municipal hospital into a nonprofit private corporation.

Doing so could save huge amounts of money in employee retirement pensions by converting to a worker contributory pension plan.

Hospitals are finding themselves looking at ways to recoup projected losses of federal budget cuts, not only from the automatic cuts of sequestration but also the Affordable Health Care Act and a number of other federal cuts.

"All of those cuts end up having a real ripple effect to the bottom line and to our ability to stay strong financially," said Laura Shea of
Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center.                                                 
 
At Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, the Medicare sequestration cuts would total more than $4 million over the next 10 years, including a $440,000 impact in the first year alone, which hospital officials say has already been budgeted for.
 

Sunday, December 21, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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