Late last night, President Obama signed into law Rep. Peter Welch's bipartisan legislation to provide funding to hospitals serving disproportionately large numbers of seniors in rural communities. This new law will provide financial relief for one year to the four Vermont hospitals currently receiving federal funding through either the Medicare-Dependent Hospitals program or the Low-Volume Hospitals program. Funding for the two programs was set to expire last night at midnight.
"Vermont's rural hospitals have a strong reputation for providing high quality health care to seniors in the communities they serve," Congressman Welch said. "This legislation will make sure our hospitals serving large numbers of seniors are adequately funded."
Last year, Rep. Welch and Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) introduced the Rural Hospital Access Act (H.R. 1787) that extends the Medicare-Dependent and Low-Volume Hospitals programs for one year. Reps. Welch and Reed successfully included their bill in the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (H.R. 4302) which was signed into law by the President last night.
Vermont has two Medicare-dependent hospitals: Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, and three low-volume hospitals: Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, Northwestern Medical Center and Central Vermont Medical Center.