Schumer: proposed Medicare change would benefit north country hospitals

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Published: May. 5, 2023 at 2:40 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Hospitals in upstate New York could see a nearly $1 billion increase annually under a proposed change to Medicare wage payments.

That’s according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D. - NY).

He says the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is proposing a change to the Medicare formula to include $967 million in increased federal funding for upstate hospitals.

Schumer says that for years, the facilities have received less than the national average for the services they provide.

“Upstate New York hospitals have faced unfairly low Medicare payments that fell terribly short of wage demands leaving hospitals struggling to compete to bring the best doctors and nurses to Upstate New York. After years of fighting though, the feds have finally shifted course, and proposed a new rule that can help finally rectify the unfair payment system,” said Schumer in a news release.

Under the proposal, the senator estimates north country hospitals would see the following increases every year:

  • Samaritan Medical Center: $7.4 million
  • Massena Hospital: $1.5 million
  • Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center: $7.1 million
  • Canton-Potsdam Hospital: $5.5 million

Schumer says the Medicare Wage Index rate is used to determine how much money the U.S. government pays hospitals for labor costs when they treat Medicare patients. Each metro area is assigned a rate that dictates whether they receive more or less than the national average for health care labor costs.

The senator gave this example: since the 1980s, hospitals in the Albany area have received 86 percent of what the average hospital receives to account for wages, which is not reflective of the true wages and labor market in Albany.

Under the proposed change, he says the Capital Region would see 122 percent of what the average hospital receives in wage adjustments.