House to vote on hospital aid bill
HARRISBURG - A bill to guarantee a greater state Medicaid reimbursement to 13 specially designated rural hospitals, including four in Northeast Pennsylvania, is headed to a floor vote this week in the House.
The measure, sponsored by Rep. Matthew Baker, R-68, Wellsboro, would benefit Mid Valley Hospital in Lackawanna County, Endless Mountains Health System and Barnes Kasson County Hospital, both in Susquehanna County, and Troy Community Hospital in Bradford County.
If adopted, the bill would guarantee additional annual reimbursements from the state budget for the four hospitals with amounts in the initial year of $255,000 for Endless Mountains, $211,000 for Barnes Kasson, $188,000 for Mid Valley and $99,000 for Troy.
They are among 13 federally designated Critical Access Hospitals in Pennsylvania, part of a program started in the 1990s to improve rural access to health care.
The measure provides that the state reimburse those hospitals for Medicaid health care services similar to how Washington reimburses them for Medicare services on a "reasonable cost basis."
The current state Medicaid reimbursement is on a per-case base which doesn't reflect all of the hospital's cost, said Mr. Baker, chairman of the House Health Committee, on Monday. He said the hospitals have received some state aid under the past four state budgets.
Passing the legislation would help maintain the critical access hospitals, which by federal law must participate in the Medicare program, be located more than 35 miles from another hospital and be designated a "necessary provider" by the state, he said.
"In some areas, this is the only hospital," said Mr. Baker. "It could be 50 to 60 miles to the nearest hospital."
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