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Rural Healthcare Eyes MA Reforms

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, August 8, 2012

Massachusetts, in the vanguard of healthcare reform, is at it again.

Healthcare policy wonks are trying to gauge the effects of the sweeping 349-page healthcare reform bill that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D) signed into law on Monday.  It already appears that rural healthcare providers stand to benefit specifically in at least a couple of areas.

One provision requires the any state-run public healthcare programs including Medicaid to pay critical access hospitals in Massachusetts 101% of reasonable costs, thus matching the Medicare reimbursement under the federal critical access hospital criteria.

"It recognizes the importance of critical access hospitals and reimburses them at a rate that allows them to stay in business," says State Rep. Smitty Pignatelli, (D-Lenox) the sponsor of the provision. His western Massachusetts district includes Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington, one of three critical-access hospital in the state.

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