LifePoint to Congress: Extend Medicare Rural Reimbursement Policies

David Critchlow, vice president of government relations for Brentwood, Tenn.-based LifePoint Hospitals, told congressional staff members yesterday that not renewing several Medicare reimbursement policies will make it harder for rural hospitals to provide essential care, according to an AHA News report.

Mr. Critchlow represented the American Hospital Association on a panel of rural healthcare leaders at a Capitol Hill briefing, according to the report. He called on lawmakers to extend the Medicare Dependent Hospital and Low-Volume Hospital programs, which expired Oct. 1.

The MDH Program provides special reimbursement rates to hospitals that serve high volumes of Medicare patients. . A hospital qualifies for the MDH Program if it is located in a rural area, has 100 beds or fewer, is not a "sole community hospital" and has at least 60 percent of inpatient days or discharges covered by Medicare.

Meanwhile, the LVH Program affects hospitals in rural communities that may not serve a high-volume of patients. These hospitals get enhanced reimbursements if they are more than 15 road miles from another comparable hospital and have less than 1,600 Medicare discharges per year.

Mr. Critchlow said hospital reimbursement cuts are causing layoffs and will also lead to a cutback in services, according to the report. He said provisions extending the MDH and LVH programs should be included in the Senate Finance Committee's Dec. 12 markup of legislation concerning Medicare's sustainable growth rate, the formula the program uses to determine physician reimbursement rates.

LifePoint operates 60 hospital campuses in 20 states, mostly in rural areas. LifePoint is the sole community hospital provider in most of the communities it serves.

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