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Cortland/Ithaca

Medicare funding gives rural hospitals a boost

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Medicare funding gives rural hospitals a boost
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Nearly $2 million from the federal government is helping one local hospital maintain services for its patients. YNN's Chris Whalen tells us where the money is coming from and why the sigh of relief may only be temporary.

NORWICH, N.Y. -- When the U.S. economy came to the brink of the fiscal cliff at the end of 2012, Chenango Memorial in Norwich stood to lose close to $2 million in Medicare funding. Cuts that could have had a big impact on hospital.

"Two million dollars. If you figure the average income of a hospital worker at around $50,000, divide $2 million by $50,000, what's that, 40 positions?" said Dr. Drake Lamen, President and CEO of Chenango Memorial.

But the deal struck by Congress on New Year's Day ensured Chenango Memorial money funded though the Medicare-dependent and low volume hospital programs.

"Hospitals that serve a high percentage of Medicare beneficiaries and hospitals that are in rural areas get a double-whammy in terms of their costs," said Senator Charles Schumer.

The legislation was introduced by Schumer and impacts 24 other hospitals across New York in addition to the facility in Norwich.

The money is even more crucial now, Chenango Memorial's CEO says, due to the reduction in revenue that is expected in the coming years because of the Affordable Care Act.

"We're looking at somewhere, $1 to $3 million decreasing revenue, assuming this stays even, and if it wasn't, we'd be looking at $37 million decreasing revenue from Medicare over the next ten years," Lamen said.

But there is one catch: The program's extension lasts just 12 months, meaning Congress will have to approve the funding once again next year.

"They tried to cut us, the Powers That Be, we won and I think they're going to be much more careful before they try to cut these programs again," said Schumer.

Schumer says he'll be at the forefront of that fight when the time comes.

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