A week after hospital executives appealed for $25 billion more in Medicare payments over the next five years, rural providers last week went to Capitol Hill asking Congress to make a series of smaller adjustments to Medicare payment policies.
Following the lead of the American Hospital Association, the National Rural Health Association asked Congress for an update in Medicare inpatient payments equal to a healthcare inflation index called the hospital "marketbasket" in the next two years. The NRHA represents hospitals, clinics and physicians.
The rural health association also wants Congress to alter the hospital "wage index" used in part to adjust individual hospital payments based on the wage rates in different markets.
The rural executives blame the wage index for lower margins in rural hospitals.
If Congress follows through on that request, it could result in a redistribution of Medicare revenue from urban hospitals. The federal government often makes changes to Medicare reimbursement formulas on a "budget neutral" basis, meaning the changes don't increase or decrease total Medicare spending.