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Senator Santorum Hosts Roundtable in Scranton with Northeast Pennsylvania Hospitals and Delivers Keynote at Wilkes-Barre VA Anniversary Event

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Location: Scranton, PA


Senator Santorum Hosts Roundtable in Scranton with Northeast Pennsylvania Hospitals and Delivers Keynote at Wilkes-Barre VA Anniversary Event

U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), today at Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton, Lackawanna County, hosted a hospital roundtable with representatives from several northeastern Pennsylvania hospitals to discuss the need for fair and adequate Medicare reimbursement.

Hospitals rely on financial reimbursement from Medicare to provide quality healthcare to patients and pay competitive wages to employees. Provisions in the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) of 2003 to help ensure that Pennsylvania hospitals are sufficiently reimbursed are set to expire April 1, 2007 unless Congress takes action. Senator Santorum is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over these issues

"Without proper Medicare reimbursement classification hospitals in northeastern Pennsylvania can't pay competitive wages with the Allentown, Philadelphia, and New York City hospitals. This region can't afford to lose anymore nurses and healthcare workers, which is why I remain committed to maintaining fair and equitable Medicare reimbursements for all Pennsylvania hospitals," said Senator Santorum.

Representatives from the following northeastern Pennsylvania hospitals attended the discussion - Moses Taylor Hospital, Wyoming Valley Health Care System, Mercy Health System, Bloomsburg Hospital, Mid Valley Hospital, Tyler Memorial Hospital, Geisinger of Wyoming Valley, Geisinger of South Wilkes-Barre, Community Medical Center of Scranton, and Greater Hazleton Health Alliance.

"We are very honored to have Senator Santorum come to Moses Taylor Hospital to discuss the Medicare wage index issue with health care providers in the region. This is a very important issue that will have a significant impact on the provision of hospital services in northeastern Pennsylvania," states Harold E. Anderson, President and CEO of Moses Taylor Hospital.

In an effort to keep doctors and nurses in northeastern Pennsylvania, Senator Santorum announced at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital in January 2004 a temporary fix to the Medicare reimbursement rates for hospitals in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area.

"Pennsylvania is already facing a medical crisis and we are losing doctors at a catastrophic rate, not to mention the impending national nursing shortage. My wife Karen, is a registered nurse and my parents both worked in the healthcare sector at VA hospitals, I know first hand the struggles hospitals face to provide quality care to patients and pay the bills to keep facilities open," said Senator Santorum.

Senator Santorum was an original cosponsor and supported passage of the Nurse Reinvestment Act (P.L. 107-205) (S. 1864), which established a nurse corps and recruitment and retention strategy to address the nursing shortage.

For more information about the temporary provision to bring fair Medicare reimbursement to northeast Pennsylvania go to http://santorum.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressOffice.View&ContentRecord_id=674&Region_id=0&Issue_id=0.

Senator Santorum was later in Luzerne County at the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center to deliver the keynote address at the celebration honoring the 75th anniversary of the creation of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the 55th anniversary of the Wilkes-Barre VA. Senator Santorum is an ardent supporter of the Wilkes-Barre VA and has worked hard with Senator Specter to get approval for an expansion at the facility, which opened in 1997. Since being elected to the United States Senate in 1994 Senator Santorum has visited the Wilkes-Barre VA six times.

"I am honored to be here today to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the VA and the 55th anniversary of the Wilkes-Barre VA. Veterans are precious individuals who have been willing to sacrifice everything to protect our country. They are selfless, salt-of-the-earth people who deserve our respect, our care, and our love," said Senator Santorum.

During Senator Santorum's tenure in the Senate, the veterans' health care budget has increased by 86%. He recently wrote a letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs seeking an increase in funding for the VA Medical and Prosthetic Research Program in Fiscal Year 2007. In 2005 Senator Santorum fought for an additional $1.5 billion in veterans' health care funding for the VA for the 2005 Fiscal Year. These funds were added after the VA indicated a significant funding shortfall for that fiscal year.

Following his keynote address Senator Santorum presented citations and letters of congratulations to honor the individuals and groups listed below that have dedicated themselves to service at the Wilkes-Barre VA:

Paul O'Hora; Doris Merrill; John McKeown; Bill Smith; Board of Trustees of the Wilkes-Barre and Wyoming Valley Veteran's Hospital Fund; The Junior Executive Committee; Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council; and Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service Executive Council.

http://santorum.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressOffice.View&ContentRecord_id=1751&Region_id=0&Issue_id=0

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