Congressman Bill Owens of Plattsburgh, center, speaks with Elizabethtown Community Hospital CEO Rod Boula, left, and Jim Forcier, President of the ECH Board of Directors, left. Boula said that if the federal government allows the, "sequester," to happen, cutting federal funding to programs like Medicare, hospitals like ECH would suffer.
A local health center has joined with the Healthcare Association of New York to urge the United States Congress to do something.
Elizabethtown Community Hospital has joined with the state association to plead with national lawmakers to avoid the “sequester,” a series of cuts that would be made to federal programs if the federal government cannot come up with a budget deal before a March 1 deadline.
According to HANYS, the implementation of sequestration which would result in $2.13 billion in Medicare cuts to New York’s hospitals and health systems. These reductions are in addition to more than $20 billion cuts providers already face over the next 10 years in separate Medicare and federal Medicaid reductions.
Elizabethtown Community Hospital CEO Rod Boula said that the sequester would directly affect small, rural hospitals in aging communities, like ECH.
“Hospitals across the nation are going to be seriously affected by cuts to Medicare, including those in our region,” Boula said. “Essentially, hospitals will be paid less when caring for patients who have Medicare as their primary form of insurance; typically the older population. The cost of providing an X-ray isn’t falling. The hospital will still be expected to maintain its equipment and staff quality, but the amount that the hospital will be paid for it will be reduced. Continued cuts threaten the ability of hospitals to serve patients in our area.”
HANYS President Daniel Sisto echoed Boula’s statements that the cuts would hurt care.
“An additional $2 billion on top of the $20 billion in cuts our hospitals and health systems already face will have a profound impact on access to care,” said HANYS President Daniel Sisto. “This unprecedented level of reductions would significantly reduce patient access to care, and lead to longer drives and wait times, and additional layoffs and service reductions at facilities across the state.”
HANYS said that recently, 6,135 jobs have been lost from hospitals and health systems since 2010.
They added that if Congress fails to reach an agreement to delay sequestration, most federal programs will face significant cuts March 1. Medicare cuts, capped at 2 percent, would go in to effect April 1. These cuts total $2.13 billion for New York State hospitals. HANYS’ analysis of how these Medicare cuts will affect specific facilities can be found here.
Boula said that just the threat of cuts is enough to make him worry.
“Even the continued threat of cuts makes it incredibly difficult to plan for the future needs of the community,” he said.