Schumer says federal funding at stake for rural hospitals

Staff Reports Posted 19 January 2015 at 12:00 am

Federal funding that provides $600,000 annually to Orleans Community Health/Medina Memorial Hospital is in jeopardy of going away, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said.

Schumer said Low Volume Hospital (LVH) and Medicare Dependent Hospital (MDH) Programs provide $16 million in aid to 24 rural hospitals in New York each year.

This funding is essential because the hospitals are often under serious financial pressure due to a lower volume of patients than their urban and suburban counterparts and they also receive a higher percentage of Medicare beneficiaries, Schumer said.

The annual funding for these hospitals is set to expire in April if it isn’t extended by Congress. Schumer said he is introducing bipartisan legislation with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that would extend these programs for an additional year.

Schumer said that these hospitals play a major role in keeping quality of care high across New York State and are a critical source of jobs.

“Rural hospitals are both essential to the quality of Upstate healthcare and are the lifeblood of rural communities throughout New York State,” Schumer said in a statement. “These hospitals serve a vital public need, employ several thousand New Yorkers across the state, and they deserve our support in their continuous efforts to provide the highest level of care to residents.”

Besides the $600,000 for Medina Memorial, other rural hospitals in WNY that receive the funding include: Bertrand Chaffee Hospital in Springville, $246,000; Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville, $715,000; Nicholas H. Noyes Memorial Hospital in Dansville, $488,000; Westfield Memorial Hospital in Chautauqua County, $57,000; and Wyoming County Community Health System in Warsaw, $800,000.

“If this funding were to go away, it would put our hospitals, patients, and employees in the lurch, and could effectively pull the plug on a lifeline for rural hospitals all over the country,” Schumer said. “The clock is ticking, and that is why I am pushing Congress to pass this bipartisan bill before it is too late. I am going to fight for the survival of this program the same way our upstate hospitals fight for their patients.”