— There is not panic at this point but Wayne Memorial Hospital officials say if a federal budget issue isn't resolved, they could stand to lose a lot of funding from Medicare.
"We are concerned about it, but we are no panicking here," said David Hoff, hospital CEO.
At issue is the Medicare Dependent Hospital designation, a program which reimburses rural hospitals for a disproportionate volume of Medicare patients.
The program, which dates back to the 1980s, expired on Sept. 30, 2012.
The hospital’s Chief Financial Officer Michael Clifford says Wayne Memorial stands to lose approximately $1.7 million between now and the end of its fiscal year on June 30, 2013.
“This is a significant sum,” said Clifford, “and it will force us to look very closely at the viability of other services at Wayne Memorial.”
Wayne Memorial is one of only 200 hospitals nationwide to have held the Medicare Dependent Hospital (MDH) status. To qualify, at least 60 percent of a hospital’s inpatient days or discharges during two out of its three most recent fiscal years must be attributable to beneficiaries entitled to Medicare Part A.
Hoff says he believes the funding will be restored by Congress before the end of the year.
"I have every reason to believe it will be resolved with budget reconciliation," said Hoff. "It is hard to believe it won't be taken care of."
That is a end-of-the-year process in which various budget matters which have not been dealt with by Congress are handled before the start of the new year.
“We are urging our supporters to contact their legislators to re-instate the MDH program,” said Hoff. “There are two bills in Congress right now that would extend the designation. Both enjoy bipartisan support, but have yet to get out of committee.”
He did say that neither U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, Democrat Bob Casey or Republican Pat Toomey, have made any commitment concerning the legislation.
The two bills are under the same title, The Rural Hospital Access Act of 2012 and both call for an amendment to title XVIII of the Social Security Act “to provide for an extension of the Medicare-dependent hospital (MDH) program and the increased payments under the Medicare low-volume hospital program and for other purposes.”
• House of Representatives Bill 5943, sponsored by Rep. Tom Reed II (R-NY29)
• Senate Bill 2620, sponsored by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)
These bills are co-sponsored by 23 senators and 58 representatives, including Rep. Thomas Marino (R-PA10). A list of legislators’ contact information can be found on the home page of Wayne Memorial’s website at www.wmh.org.
Page 2 of 2 - Hoff said this is the second time it has happened concerning this particular program. The first time was in the 1980s and it was resolved.
He thinks that will be the case this time and that the funds will be retroactive to cover the costs which are now being absorbed by the hospital.
“Wayne Memorial needs everyone’s help to continue to remain vital for all our patients,” said Hoff. “Help us extend the MDH program.”
Even without the program, Hoff said the hospital is in sound fiscal condition.
Hoff said since the closure of Marian Hospital in Carbondale, volume in Honesdale has been on the rise.
In-patient days are up about 10 per month and there have also been significant increases in emergency room visits and out-patient procedures.
"We're in a good position," said Hoff.