May 16, 2012

Congressional Delegation Fights for WV Hospitals

WASHINGTON--Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., joined with the West Virginia delegation to send a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) expressing serious concerns about a new interpretation of its regulations regarding reimbursable costs and its impact on West Virginia’s critical access hospitals (CAHs).  Under the CMS’s new interpretation, each of West Virginia’s CAHs may lose hundreds of thousands of dollars each year and since the rule is being applied retroactively, be even be required to pay millions of dollars in previously reimbursed tax payments.

“Due to CMS fundamentally misunderstanding how West Virginia’s provider tax system works, West Virginia’s hospitals stand to lose millions of dollars.  Traditionally, CMS has reimbursed West Virginia’s critical access hospitals for the provider tax they are required to pay under West Virginia law.  This reimbursement helped our rural hospitals cover costs of delivering good-quality care.  Unfortunately, in 2011 CMS decided that these payments are no longer reimbursable, meaning hospitals will send millions of dollars to the federal government instead of spending that money on patients,” stated Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.  “This is a bipartisan, West Virginia issue.  I am proud to stand with my colleagues in Congress to fight together for our hospitals.”

“I’m deeply concerned about protecting access to health care in rural areas, and am working hard to make sure that the implementation of the provider tax rule does not unfairly burden West Virginia hospitals. Rural hospitals and patients have to be treated fairly,” stated Senator Jay Rockefeller. 

“I’m so proud that our state’s entire Congressional delegation came together for the good of the people we serve. This goes to show that party lines won’t prevent us from doing the right thing for West Virginia,” Senator Joe Manchin said. “West Virginia’s rural communities depend on Critical Access Hospitals for life-saving services and emergency care.  For these small hospitals, this reimbursement could mean the difference between staying open and continuing to care for our rural seniors, or closing their doors for good.  I have always said we have to set our priorities around our values, and that’s why we have must give our rural hospitals, who are often the only health care providers in their communities, the support they need to keep serving the most vulnerable among us.”

“I am trying to fend off changes by a bureaucratic agency to preserve health care services for West Virginians.  I urge CMS to reopen its consideration of this regulatory change and listen closely to the hospitals and health care professionals of our State,” said Congressman Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va.  “Certainly, implementing this rule would have a detrimental impact on health care for West Virginians.” 

“This is an issue that is of great concern to us and we’ve been working on for quite some time.  CMS has created undue hardship for critical care hospitals in West Virginia.  As we continue to work toward a resolution, we hope this letter will convince them to stop, what could be a devastating ruling,” stated Rep. David B. McKinley, P.E. 

Attached: Delegation letter to CMS.