August 14, 2003

SCMH Representative Urges Congress To Support Medicare Reforms

During visits to Washington, D.C., in July, representatives of Missouri's rural hospitals urged Congress to support pending Medicare reforms, including payment enhancements for rural hospitals and prescription drug legislation.

The executives shared data with Missouri's Congressional delegation illustrating the financial challenges faced by hospitals. According to Medicare cost reports, Missouri hospitals lost more than $36 million treating Medicare patients in 2002. Unless Congress enacts Medicare reforms, losses are projected to reach more than $64 million this year and more than $74 million in 2004.

Among the hospital representatives was Marcia R. Dial, administrator and chief executive officer of Scotland County Memorial Hospital in

Memphis. Dial met with staff of Rep. Kenny Hulshof at a dinner

meeting July 16. On July 17, she met with Sen. Jim Talent and Rep. Hulshof and discussed specific concerns of rural hospitals.

"Currently, 65 percent of Missouri's hospitals lose money caring for Medicare patients," said Dwight Fine, MHA senior vice president of governmental relations. "We are asking Congress to change the Medicare reimbursement formula so that Missouri rural hospitals will receive payments that more closely reflect their costs."

The delegation also encouraged Congressional representatives to support legislation that would provide states fiscal relief by offering premium assistance for dually eligible Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

"Currently, 158,341 of the 181,682 elderly and disabled beneficiaries in Missouri are dually enrolled for Medicare and Medicaid coverage," Fine said. "In fiscal year 2002, Missouri paid $428.7 million in prescription drug claims for these beneficiaries - an expense that should be covered by federal dollars and the Medicare program."

The delegation of 30 rural hospital representatives was organized by the Missouri Hospital Association. It was comprised of hospital executives, board members and MHA staff.

The group met with staff of Missouri Reps. Roy Blunt, Jo Ann Emerson, Sam Graves, Kenny Hulshof and Ike Skelton.

MHA is a not-for-profit membership association in Jefferson City representing 141 Missouri hospitals. In addition to representation and advocacy on behalf of its membership, the association offers continuing education programs on current health care topics and seeks to educate the public about health care issues.

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