Hospitals push NY state to increase reimbursements for Medicaid patients

Published: Apr. 21, 2023 at 3:50 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Dealing with increasing costs, healthcare officials are pushing the state to raise the amount of money hospitals receive for treating Medicaid patients.

More than 80% of the nursing home residents at Samaritan facilities participate in Medicaid. When Samaritan Summit Village is full, approximately 230 of the 288 residents use Medicaid to help pay for their care.

“We serve a very large Medicaid population here in this area, meaning that Samaritan itself receives about 20% of its income, the hospital, from Medicaid patients. In our nursing home facilities it’s 80%,” said Leslie DiStefano, director of Communication & Public Relations, Samaritan Medical Center.

Governor Kathy Hochul proposed a 5% increase in Medicaid reimbursement for hospitals in the state budget, which now is more than three weeks late. For some medical centers in the north country, that amount is just not enough.

“Costs have just escalated. Whether it’s food, supplies, you can imagine the price of drugs and different things that hospitals actually have to purchase. All of it has increased,” said DiStefano.

DiStefano says hospitals across the state are dealing with the lasting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, including inflation, supply chain issues, and labor shortages.

“If there isn’t any increase then all of us would have to look to see how we would make up that income. What will we have to cut in order to get there? There are ways that each and every individual hospital and nursing home would have to do so,” she said.

It has been 15 years since the last significant rise in Medicaid reimbursement rates, says DiStefano. She says 5% simply can not keep up with the rising costs of care.

“This is a big deal to the community because we serve so many of those patients that need Medicaid, and we’re here to help them,” she said.

Samaritan is not the only medical center to see the effects of rising costs. Carthage Area Hospital tells 7 News its costs rose by 40% over the last 18 months and “any increase would be ideal for us”.