Baker-Backed Budget Measure Will Provide Funding for Rural Hospitals

Thirteen rural hospitals in Pennsylvania will benefit from $5 million in funding which was included in the recently passed state budget, according to Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne). This funding is important to aid critical access hospitals, which by definition must be located more than 35 miles from another hospital, and will enable them to draw down an additional $5 million in matching federal funds. Baker was a leader in the effort to include this in the budget.

Locally, those facilities are Barnes Kasson County Hospital and Endless Mountains Health Center in Susquehanna County. Both hospitals are included in the Critical Access Hospital Program, created by Congress in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. The program was established to help improve rural health care access and reduce hospital closures.

Baker explained that while Critical Access Hospitals are entitled to receive cost-based reimbursement for Medicare claims there is no such guarantee for Medicaid reimbursement.

“Because many rural hospitals treat a large portion of Medicaid patients, they are facing serious financial distress because of our current reimbursement policy,” Baker said. “This budget measure will require Pennsylvania to adopt a Medicaid payment policy similar to that used for the federal Medicare program, and will provide the necessary money to fund the effort.”

Baker said 22 other states have adopted a Medicaid payment policy similar to that used for Medicare services provided by Critical Access Hospitals.

“Rural hospitals provide a critical lifeline to many people who otherwise might not have access to high quality health care,” Baker said. “This new policy will fairly reimburse these hospitals and ensure continued access to quality medical care in rural areas.”

Contact: Brian Grove
(570) 675-3931

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