Schumer says upstate hospitals to receive nearly $1 billion additional in federal funding
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Wednesday that the federal government has finalized a change in a formula that will result in a nearly $1 billion increase in payments to upstate hospitals.
Schumer had originally talked about the planned change in theMedicare Wage Index in May, and this week he said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has officially signed off on this change.
The New York Democrat told reporters that he has been advocating for the new formula because for years, Upstate New York got unfairly low Medicare payments.
Schumer said that by shortchanging upstate hospitals, it hurts their ability to provide top-notch services.
“For too long, you'd go to a hospital and they’d say, ‘you know, we don't have this type of specialist, you’ve got to travel 70 miles,’ they'd say, ‘the nurses are just overworked because we don't have enough nurses.’ Or you have to wait a long time because they didn't have enough personnel. All of that will be over. Because now we're getting treated fairly,” said Schumer.
The Senator says this infusion of cash for upstate hospitals will also have a very positive impact on the economy in many communities, since hospitals will be able to hire more personnel.
“They'll be able not only to pay the existing people enough so that they don't leave and so they stay and they can support their families better. But they will bring new people in," Schumer said. "And all this means, these new dollars flow through the economy (with) an extra billion dollars for the Upstate New York economy, as they say, ain't chicken feed."
Schumer said the additional payment should begin in October and will continue on an annual basis.
According to Schumer’s office, the estimated increase in the Medicare Wage Index Payments include $82 million for Strong Memorial Hospital and $57 million for Rochester General Hospital.
When Schumer talked about the effort to get the change in the funding formula in May, Chief Financial Officer Adam Anolik said their hospital has incurred extra costs since the start of the COVID pandemic.
“We serve patients, we do research work, we have education, and the increased costs that we have here, we're not able to pass on to our customers, like a lot of industries do.”
A statement from Rochester General in May said that the proposed change in funding is an important first step to addressing the years of Medicare under-funding that the hospital has experienced.