WASHINGTON (LOOTPRESS) – Congresswomen Carol Miller (R-WV) and Terri Sewell (D-AL) introduced the Assistance for Rural Community Hospitals (ARCH) Act, which would extend Medicare-dependent hospital and Medicare low-volume hospital payments for five years.
“Rural hospitals are the foundation of West Virginia’s health care infrastructure,” said Congresswoman Miller. “It is essential to the wellbeing of rural communities that these smaller health care access points have the resources and accommodations necessary to remain operable. I am pleased to join Congresswoman Sewell on the ARCH Act to support our rural hospitals and Medicare patients.”
“Our West Virginia hospitals are grateful for Congresswoman Carol Miller’s support of local rural hospitals here in our state and across the country,” said Melanie Dempsey, Vice President, Financial Policy, West Virginia Hospital Association. “By introducing legislation to extend the Medicare-Dependent Hospital program and enhanced low-volume Medicare adjustments, her efforts will ensure integral funding for rural hospitals that are struggling with unprecedented financial pressures. Without legislation to continue these programs, they will expire September 30, 2022, reducing payments to participating rural hospitals by $0.6 billion. The effect on community health care access would be catastrophic without the continuation of these programs.”
According to the American Hospital Association, Congress established the Medicare-Dependent Hospital (MDH) program in 1987, allowing eligible hospitals to receive the sum of their prospective payment system (PPS) payment rate, plus three quarters of the amount by which their cost per discharge exceeds the PPS rate. These payments allow MDHs greater financial stability and leave them better able to serve their patients and communities. The ARCH Act would extend this important program for five additional years, helping to provide needed financial stability to rural hospitals.
The ARCH Act would also extend the enhanced low-volume Medicare adjustment for five years. Medicare seeks to pay providers their costs of furnishing services. However, certain factors beyond providers’ control can affect the costs of furnishing services. Patient volume is one such factor and is particularly relevant in small and isolated communities where providers frequently cannot achieve the economies of scale possible for their larger counterparts.