As Congress works through the final details for an omnibus package, which would include federal spending for the remainder of fiscal year 2018, there are critical issues facing Tennessee's hospitals.
A multi-year extension for expired and expiring Medicare rural hospital provisions and a five-year reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) all are on the table. These items are vital to the stability of many hospitals in the state and the health of Tennesseans. Eight rural hospitals in Tennessee have closed since 2012, and several more are in danger of shutting their doors.
In response to this ongoing work in Washington, THA President and CEO Craig Becker has made the following statement:
"Tennessee's hospitals urge Congress to pass the Medicare extenders package for rural hospitals and drop changes currently being proposed in the Senate to change the low-volume adjustment. If passed in its current form, the Senate's cuts would further undermine some of our state's most vulnerable facilities -small and rural hospitals. In 2015, the Tennessee hospitals that qualified for one of these Medicare programs had an average operating margin of -1.7 percent.
"As a result, the Medicare package is a lifeline for many of these facilities. A five-year extension of the package items would be ideal and ensure this funding continues. However, we also recognize the political and financial pressures in Washington, but a two-year extension is critical in order to stabilize the near-term financial outlook for many of Tennessee's hospitals."