On the heels of a Washington Post editorial questioning the need to raise Medicare provider payments, 44 senators have signed a letter to Senate Finance Committee leaders pleading the case of rural hospitals. The letter, authored by Sens. Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who co-chair the Senate Rural Health Caucus, asks for a full inflation update for rural hospitals in 2003. Under current law, all hospitals are scheduled to receive an update one-half of a percentage point below inflation, but rural hospitals "have Medicare profit margins far lower than those of hospitals in large urban areas," the senators wrote. In addition, the letter asks for the elimination of the existing cap on disproportionate-share payments, which compensate hospitals for treating a large number of indigent patients. -- by Jeff Tieman
Lawmakers plead case of rural hospitals
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