Alexander, Corker Urge Extension of Critical Medicare Payments for Rural Hospitals in Tennessee

Posted on December 21, 2017

WASHINGTON, December 21, 2017 – United States Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) today sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) requesting the committee extend Medicare payments that are critical to small, rural hospitals in Tennessee. 

“We are writing to request that you consider including an extension of the low-volume adjustment (LVA) for hospitals with offsets at the same rate the program was funded before its expiration on September 30, 2017, in the final health care extenders package. Medicare payments such as these are critical to small, rural hospitals in Tennessee and it is important that Congress provide these facilities some certainty that future funding for this program will remain level,” the senators wrote.

Tennessee hospitals would lose over $5.4 million in reimbursements over the next five years if the Senate Finance Committee’s proposed changes for eligibility become law, according to the Tennessee Hospital Association (THA). The Tennessee senators said it is important that Medicare funding is included in the final health care extenders packages because these payments are critical to small, rural hospitals in Tennessee.

The full text of the letter is below, and a link is available here.

December 21, 2017

Dear Chairman Hatch:

We are writing to request that you consider including an extension of the low-volume adjustment (LVA) for hospitals with offsets at the same rate the program was funded before its expiration on September 30, 2017, in the final health care extenders package. Medicare payments such as these are critical to small, rural hospitals in Tennessee and it is important that Congress provide these facilities some certainty that future funding for this program will remain level. 

The Senate Finance Committee’s discussion draft released in October includes a five-year extension of the LVA, but also makes changes to the eligibility threshold for the payment adjustment. According to the Tennessee Hospital Association, this proposal would result in a nearly $5.4 million reduction in reimbursements for Tennessee hospitals over the next five years when compared to pre-expiration funding. Hospitals in rural Tennessee serve as job creators and economic engines in communities, and our state has seen eight hospitals close in recent years.

As you continue negotiations on other health care extender policies, we hope you will consider extending this program at pre-expiration levels to give our rural hospitals stability so they can make long-term, financial decisions to serve the best interests of their patients and communities.

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