Senate-Passed Medicare Bill Extends Wage Index Reclassification Program and Provides $45 million in Medicare Reimbursements
U.S. Senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey today announced an important Medicare fix for northeastern Pennsylvania hospitals. The provision is included the Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007 that that was passed late last night by the Senate's unanimous consent. The Medicare provision corrects what would have been a disastrous gap in Medicare reimbursements to 12 northeastern Pennsylvania hospitals.
The provision, which will result in $45 million in Medicare reimbursements for northeastern Pennsylvania hospitals, extends Section 508 of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 wage index reclassification program. The program is necessary for equitable and adequate Medicare reimbursement for twelve hospitals in the northeastern region. Originally set to expire on September 30, 2007, the Medicare bill extends the reclassification reimbursements until September 30, 2008. In order to avoid a gap in payments to the hospitals, the extension is retroactive to October 1, 2007.
"Northeastern Pennsylvania hospitals deserve fair and adequate Medicare reimbursement," Specter said. "I am very pleased that the Medicare bill includes this critical extension to address the hospitals' financial distress and ensure Northeastern Pennsylvanians' access to quality health care."
"I'm pleased my colleagues worked collaboratively on this important issue to find a solution to this wage index problem," said Casey. "This extension in the Medicare bill will help guarantee hospitals are properly and justly compensated for the critical work they do in ensuring the health and care of northeastern Pennsylvanians."
The provision's inclusion in the Medicare bill comes after a September letter that Senators Specter and Casey wrote to Chairman Max Baucus and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley of the Senate Finance Committee urging them extend the Section 508 reclassifications. In October, the Senators Baucus and Grassley agreed to have the Senate consider the extension during the current session.
The House of Representatives is set to consider the Medicare Bill this week after which it will be sent to President of the United States.