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New Medicare formula could bring millions to central New York hospitals


Central New York hospitals could soon see a multi-million dollar boost in their funding, thanks to a proposed change in Medicare reimbursement.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said for years, Medicare reimbursement has been paying local hospitals less than it should.

"When you treat somebody, there are certain costs,” he said. “There's a cost to hiring a nurse. There's a cost for the equipment. There's a cost for this, a cost for that. If you're not getting paid the right amount for those costs, healthcare suffers."

But Schumer said that’s all about to change. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, is proposing a new formula for its Medicare Wage Index that is designed to bring $121 million dollars a year to seven central New York hospitals.

A list sent out from Schumer’s office shows the annual increases include $1.9 million to Oswego Health, $2.9 million to Auburn Community Hospital, $4.9 million to Guthrie Cortland Medical Center, $5.3 million to Oneida Health Hospital, $22.7 million to Crouse Health, $37.9 to St. Joseph’s Health, and $45.6 million to Upstate University Hospital.

In a statement, Upstate University Hospital responded to the news by saying, “Upstate Medical University is extremely grateful for Senator Schumer’s advocacy efforts to increase Medicare wage index factors, in recognition of the significant costs that safety net academic medical centers have long borne in providing vital care. These proposed modifications would materially improve payment rates for services provided to our Medicare patient population. Specifically, these changes, if adopted in final rulemaking, would more accurately account for our costs of labor and would provide critical reimbursement for patient services.”

Schumer said he also expects the new wage index to help hospitals recruit more doctors and nurses, which should, in turn, improve patient care.

"The amount of money that is going to our hospitals, well deserved, is so large that just about every aspect of healthcare will improve for upstate New Yorkers," Schumer said.

Schumer said he expects CMS to officially approve the proposal in August.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.