Hospital groups and individual hospitals are responding negatively to HCFA's attempt to change its reclassification system, a move that would cut Medicare disproportionate-share payments for many rural hospitals.
Under the HCFA proposal, rural hospitals could no longer be reclassified to "other urban" areas to get higher Medicare disproportionate-share payments. That would be a blow to rural facilities because it's easier for urban hospitals to qualify for the higher disproportionate-share payments (Aug. 7, p. 64). The proposal would affect hospitals' fiscal 1996 rates.
The comment period ended Aug. 1, and final regulations are due Sept. 1.
All 11 of the hospital groups that responded to HCFA's proposal opposed it. They included the Federation of American Health Systems, the American Hospital Association and the Texas Hospital Association.
"We believe Congress intended that rural hospitals eligible for reclassification be treated similarly to urban facilities with respect to disproportionate-share payments, as well as other payments under the (prospective payment) system," FAHS officials wrote regarding their reason for opposing the change.