Local hospitals get more money for Medicare patients

Hospitals get more money for Medicare patients

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Local hospitals say they’re getting reimbursed about 60 cents on the dollar for providing care to Medicaid patients. 

The rate wasn’t much better for Medicare patients either, until now. A new change at the federal level will funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to our area.

News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke goes in-depth.

What’s known as the Medicare Wage Index rate is used to determine how much money the feds pays hospitals for labor costs when they treat Medicare patients.

For decades, hospitals in upstate New York received less than the national average but a recent change has brought us in line with the rest of the country and it’s helping to fill what would otherwise be major budget shortfalls at our local hospitals.  

It’s a start in addressing some of the stress that health systems in our area are facing. As we’ve been reporting for months now, our major hospitals are over capacity every single day. The demand from Medicare and Medicaid patients comes at a time when health care staffing is a challenge.

So, the hope is an increase on the federal side for Medicare patients can start alleviating some of that pressure.  

“The wage index discriminated against upstate New York hospitals, we got it changed. Rochester Regional Hospital will now get $116 million more in additional Medicare reimbursement and that’s permanent,” says Senate Majority Leader Church Schumer. 

So, Rochester Regional Health gets the 116 million, UR Medicine will see an increase of $120 million annually when it comes to Medicare reimbursement rates.

Of course, that’s good on the Medicare side, but hospitals are still panicked about the lack of increase on the Medicaid reimbursement rates. That decision falls to the State of New York, and at the moment, there is no increase in the rate included in the governor’s proposed budget.

We’ll keep a close eye on that as budget negotiations continue.