Hospitals cheer, jeer fiscal cliff deal

Taxpayer Relief Act is mixed bag for hospitals
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The rhetoric surrounding the fiscal cliff deal is heating up. Much of the hospital industry is blasting the legislation for shifting Medicare cuts to hospitals. However, some hospital groups will see their Medicare funding jump because of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.

Public hospitals, especially, are criticizing the fiscal cliff deal, according to The Hill's Healthwatch. Those providers also will likely reignite campaigns to lobby against cuts as part of a deficit-reduction deal in two months, the article noted.

Similarly, the president of the Federation of American Hospitals denounced the Medicare cuts as allowing Congress to "rob hospital Peter to pay for fiscal cliff Paul" and ultimately hurting patient care, Kaiser Health News reported.

However, the fiscal cliff deal delivered good news to rural hospitals. It included a one-year extension to a program that pays up to millions of dollars to hospitals with fewer than 100 beds in rural areas and have a large Medicare patient population, according to another KHN article.

Thanks to the extension, Jones Memorial Hospital in rural upstate New York will see an extra $450,000 in Medicare funds this year, while Wayne Memorial Hospital in Honesdale, Pa., will get an additional $2 million.

"It was a pleasant surprise," Wayne Memorial Chief Financial Officer Michael Clifford told KHN. "We are looking forward to being in the black from operations because of the money."

For more:
- read the KHN article
- here's the Hill's Healthwatch article
- read the KHN article on rural hospitals

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