Brown supports Medicare funding reform
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to correct an unfair funding formula that results in lower Medicare reimbursement rates for hospitals in rural and low-wage areas. The Fair Medicare Hospital Payments Act of 2017 would create an “area wage index,” which accounts for the relative wages of the communities that hospitals serve when calculating Medicare reimbursement rates.
“Ohioans who live in underserved communities should not have their access to healthcare threatened by a broken federal formula,” said Brown. “Hospitals serving our most vulnerable areas that are economically struggling encounter enough challenges without unfair reimbursement rates further complicating their ability to care for patients. By correcting this discrepancy, we can strengthen healthcare in our rural and underserved communities and help ensure patients continue to receive medical care close to home.”
Under the current formula, hospitals in Ohio’s underserved communities are at a disadvantage in securing Medicare reimbursements, as the area wage index disproportionately benefits hospitals in higher-wage communities. Lower reimbursement rates mean fewer resources for medical care and potentially could lead to the closures of hospitals in rural and low-wage communities.
Brown was also an original co-sponsor of the bipartisan Fair Medicare Hospital Payments Act when it was introduced in the Senate in April 2016.