Effect on Rural Hospitals
The new law also includes critical funding extensions for rural hospitals, "including the Medicare Dependent Hospital program and the low-volume adjustment, eliminates cuts in 2016 to the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital program, and delays for an additional six months the ill-advised two-midnight policy, while precluding recovery audit contractors from second guessing decisions made by physicians related to this policy," AHA said in a statement.
"The offsets to pay for this package include a variety of different provisions that impact various sectors of the healthcare field, while the hospital provisions basically represent a continuation of current policies 10 years from now rather than any new cuts."
AHA says it did not get everything it wanted. "We are disappointed that certain provisions for rural hospitals were not included in the legislation, such as relief from both the so-called 96-hour rule for critical access hospitals, and enforcement of the direct supervision requirement for rural hospitals. In addition, relief from cuts to Medicare (disproportionate share) payments were not included, and need to be revisited by the Congress."