Earlier today, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) introduced bipartisan legislation to protect hospitals in New Jersey and other-urban areas that are facing unsustainable Medicare payment losses.
Smith's bill, the Urban Medicare-Dependent Hospitals (UMDH) Preservation Act, would afford hospitals in urban areas that serve a high proportion of Medicare patients (60 percent or higher) the same payment relief currently provided to their rural counterparts. Hospitals in some areas qualify for additional payments that help them make up for Medicare shortfalls. Under current law, however, New Jersey's hospitals are excluded from receiving similar compensation.
"Seniors and hospitals in New Jersey are disadvantaged simply because they do not fall in the definition of "rural,' and therefore, are also especially vulnerable to Medicare reductions," said Smith who represents Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean counties. "New Jersey's hospitals that serve a disproportionate amount of Medicare beneficiaries suffer severe financial pressure when payments fail to keep up with the cost of providing care."
Smith's legislation, H.R. 1390, would provide parity between hospitals that face similar challenges, regardless of their location. The bill would provide many hospitals in New Jersey--and 67 hospitals across the country--with the same funding to treat seniors across our state and the Fourth Congressional District.
"Barnabas Health is strongly supportive of the Urban Medicare-Dependent Hospitals legislation as introduced by Rep. Smith," said Barry H. Ostrowsky, President and Chief Executive Officer of Barnabas Health, New Jersey's largest healthcare system. "The UMDH bill will ensure the viability of hospitals, vital to their communities, like Community Medical Center (CMC) in Ocean County--which treats 100,000 Emergency Department patients annually--and benefit over 60 hospitals throughout the U.S., including CMC and eight others within the State of New Jersey."
"We applaud Congressman Chris Smith for reintroducing the Urban Medicare-Dependent Hospitals Preservation Act," said John K. Lloyd, FACHE, president of Meridian Health. "As health care providers in Monmouth and Ocean counties continue to deal with the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy and the challenges of heath care reform, this bill will provide much needed payment protections and level the playing field."
"My legislation is designed to ensure fairness and preserve the viability of these important hospitals, maintain access to proper medical care for our senior populations and sustain the economic benefits to New Jersey's communities that these facilities provide," said Smith.
Smith (NJ-04) is joined by his New Jersey colleagues Reps. Jon Runyan (NJ-03) and Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02); Florida Reps. Deutch (FL-21) and Lois Frankel (FL-22); and Connecticut Congressmen John Larson (CT-01) and Joe Courtney (CT-02).