Trump-era rule that would cost N.J. hospitals $100M is delayed

Posted May 03, 2021

The Biden administration temporarily has postponed a new rule that would cost New Jersey hospitals in Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties $100 million in Medicare funding, according to the New Jersey lawmakers who sit on the congressional committees overseeing the federal program.

The one-year delay will give state officials time to overturn the decision by the Trump administration to remove the three counties from the New York-Newark-Jersey City statistical area, according to Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-9th Dist.

The three counties were grouped together in a new regional area that would provide lower Medicare reimbursement rates in a state hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

By delaying the final rule for at least a year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will have final 2020 census figures in hand before a final decision, possibly showing population trends that would overturn the decision to exclude those three counties from the larger statistical area.

“It would be unconscionable to slash Medicare reimbursements to doctors and nurses working tirelessly to treat and save patients’ lives during a pandemic, but that’s exactly what the Trump administration quietly did to Central Jersey hospitals during the peak of COVID-19,” Menendez said.

He said the one-year delay would be “buying us time to keep fighting for a more equitable solution.”

According to a New Jersey Hospital Association list of facilities, there are 23 hospitals in the three counties.

“This delay in further cuts in critical health care dollars to our state is welcomed news,” said Cathy Bennett, president and chief executive of the hospital group.

The decision to provide less to these hospitals was one of two actions taken by the Trump administration that would take away hundreds of millions of federal funds going to New Jersey, a state that already sends billions of dollars more to Washington that it receives in services.

In 2018, the administration ruled that New Jersey’s rural hospitals were no longer eligible for extra Medicare reimbursements to cover the higher costs of treating patients in less-populated areas. That decision overturned a waiver the state had been receiving since 2005 because New Jersey had been classified as all-urban, meaning that its hospitals serving rural populations did not qualify for the extra funding.

Menendez inserted a provision to restore the higher rates in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus law signed by President Joe Biden. That provision could mean an extra $133 million a year for 38 hospitals.

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-05-04 03:09:00 -0700