State of New York comes out ahead in Medicare payments

To the shock of many state lobbyists who pushed for extra money in the new healthcare law to reward low-cost hospitals, New York, of all places, will be receiving more bonus money than any other state, reports the New York Times.

Under the deal aimed at addressing geographic disparities in healthcare spending, $400 million in federal money is going to 415 hospitals in 273 counties ranked among the lowest 25 percent of Medicare spending throughout the country. Nearly 12 percent of the money--$46.3 million--will be dispersed among 50 mostly rural hospitals in upstate New York. The next-highest states include Virginia at 10 percent, Iowa and Wisconsin each at about 8 percent, Oregon at 6 percent and Missouri at 5 percent.

Despite the fact that many of the 30 lawmakers--including Democrats Bruce Braley of Iowa, Jay Inslee of Washington and Betty McCollum of Minnesota--who complained that their doctors and hospitals had been shortchanged by Medicare were from the Midwest and Northeast, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey and Tennessee are among the states not receiving any money.

"New York is supposed to be a very high-cost state, but it has low-cost areas," said Dr. Paul J. Kronenberg, president of Crouse Hospital in Syracuse, which is scheduled to receive $3 million. "Healthcare providers and hospitals here have made a concerted effort to improve the efficiency of our operations, prevent complications, reduce the length of hospital stays and lower readmission rates."

Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said, "The current geographic variation in Medicare reimbursement rates is inequitable." To reduce such inequities, she said, she intends to order changes in payments to doctors and hospitals after the National Academy of Sciences studies the issue and makes recommendations.

To learn more:
- read the article in the New York Times