Current Federal Issues
Working to Provide Our Veterans with Access to Specialty Care, Locally
A federal legislative committee is currently working on a Veterans' Affairs bill aimed at remedying issues with Veterans' access to care. The intent of the bill is to improve care for Veterans seeking health care through the VA; however, as currently written the bill has the unintended consequence of prohibiting veterans who reside within 40 miles of a Veterans' Affairs medical facility (the local VA Clinic in Port Angeles qualifies) to obtain specialty care locally.
In support of our veterans, Olympic Medical Center is imploring our federal legislators to amend the bill and fix this flaw by asking for inclusive language in the bill clarifying the 40-mile rule further. Specifically, we are asking the committee to expressly provide direction in the bill that if specialty care is not readily available through a VA facility within 40 miles of the veteran's residence, then the veteran may obtain that care through another area provider.
We welcome you to weigh in on this issue. For information on how to reach Senator Patty Murray's office and a sample letter to consider, please see the Call to Action section on the upper right hand section of this page.
Addressing Medicare Cuts
Sequestration took effect April 1, 2013, and reduced all Medicare reimbursement by 2%, which reduced Olympic Medical Center’s Medicare reimbursement by approximately $100,000 per month. This reimbursement reduction of $1.2 million annually further reduces Medicare payments below the cost of providing needed local services to Medicare enrollees.
Medicare (and Medicaid) payments to hospitals have been cut by an estimated $113 billion since 2010, according to a chart released by the AHA. The figures represent the 10-year impact of legislative and regulatory actions on hospital payments since 2010, excluding cuts included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. To view the chart, please click here.
Congress continues to contemplate further cuts to Medicare reimbursement. Olympic Medical Center is connecting with federal legislators to let them know that further cuts to Medicare will not only undermine the Affordable Care Act, but also harm large rural hospital systems and the communities they serve.
OMC's Federal Policy Priorities:
- Maintain current reimbursement for physician services at hospital outpatient departments. Congress is considering a Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) recommendation that would reduce Medicare payment between 65% and 80% for 10 of the most common physician outpatient hospital departments. These physician services are already paid below the cost of providing these services. This recommendation does not consider rural areas with large populations of Medicare and Medicaid patients like Clallam County. Nor does it consider the costs of hospital space and the regulatory costs of maintaining hospital departments.
- Stop further Medicare reimbursement reductions in order to protect local services that are needed by the more than 16,000 Medicare enrollees in Clallam County.
- Protect Medicare reimbursement for physician services so that access to needed health care is maintained. We already have a physician shortage in Clallam County – further reductions will make the situation worse.
- Stop site neutral payment recommendations. these recommendations would cut Olympic Medical Center Medicare payments by more than 5%, or $3 million annually.
We encourage you to write your elected federal representatives to let them know your thoughts on adequate Medicare funding.
Governor Signs Sole Community Hospital Bill
About the Sole Community Hospital Bill
Olympic Medical Center helped develop a bill - co-sponsored by Senator Jim Hargrove, Representative Kevin Van De Wege and Representative Steve Tharinger - in the state legislature to recognize Sole Community Hospitals in Washington State, which would result in 25% increase in reimbursement for Medicaid outpatient services. This would raise reimbursement from 55% of cost to 70% of cost. Olympic Medical Center fills too large a need to be Critical Access (25 beds or less) and does not have the payer mix advantages of urban hospitals. Recognizing Olympic Medical Center for its status as a Sole Community Hospital, public hosptial district and Level-3 Trauma Center will help bridge this divide for adequate reimbursement for Medicaid.
The Sole Community Hospital bill (Senate Bill 5859) passed both the Senate and the House, and received Governor Jay Inslee's signature on March 19.
Thank you to all community members who supported this bill and advocated for adequate reimbursement from our government payers.