Cochran takes Mississippi hospitals’ concerns to HHS Secretary

By Press Reports

Senator Says Rural Health
Facilities Fear Cuts,
Uncertainty about Obama Health Care Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) this week
raised concerns about the effect that cuts to a rural hospital
program, as well as the looming implementation of the Affordable Care
Act, will have on states like Mississippi.
During a Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education
Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, Cochran addressed
the Obama administration’s FY2014 budget request to reduce Medicare
support for Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs). HHS Secretary Kathleen
Sebelius appeared before the subcommittee to explain the budget
recommendations for the CAH and other health care programs.
Cochran indicated that rural hospitals in Mississippi are anxious
about the proposed health care changes incorporated into the
President’s FY2014 budget, as well as the full implementation of the
Affordable Care Act in 2014.
“We have a large number of poor people living in many Southern states
and many of them have benefitted from Department of Health and Human
Services’ sensitivity to the challenges that many of our small town
hospitals face. They are worried now, though, about how these budget
reductions, new regulations and new programs might affect them in an
adverse way,” Cochran said.
“Our rural hospitals want to know whether or not certain payments and
reimbursements will adequately reflect the fact that some hospitals
in regions like the Mississippi Delta might not be able to keep their
emergency rooms open and available to people who need medical
attention,” he said.
CAHs are designated rural hospitals that operate 24-hour emergency
room services. As such, they receive cost-based Medicare
reimbursement payments.
The President’s budget calls for reducing reimbursement for all CAHs
from 101 percent of “reasonable costs” to 100 percent. In 2014, CAH
status would be eliminated for hospitals less than 10 miles from
another hospital, regardless of community need.
Pioneer Community Hospital of Choctaw is a designated critical access
hospital.