Three hospitals in the greater Capital Region have had important funding streams secured for the next several years.
In fiscal years 2018 through 2022, Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville will receive $6.62 million, and St. Mary’s Healthcare in Amsterdam will receive $8.94 million as Medicare-dependent hospitals, and Cobleskill Regional Hospital will receive $2.56 million as a low-volume hospital.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., announced the multiyear funding for these and several other rural upstate New York hospitals on Wednesday as part of the bipartisan federal budget agreement.
The hospitals, which are considered rural, based on their service area, qualify for federal assistance because they have lower patient volumes and/or a higher percentage of Medicare patients than urban and suburban hospitals do. As a result, they are unable to develop the economies of scale that larger hospitals can.
Schumer visited Littauer in October to warn that Medicare-dependent and low-volume funding had become a political football. The aid had been renewed annually since 1990, but when the federal budget expired Sept. 30, so did the funding. It became a bargaining chip in the federal budget squabble between Democrats and Republicans.
Littauer CEO Lawrence Kelly told The Daily Gazette in October that the funding is an important part of the larger picture of providing health care to rural areas. Without it, he said, hospitals might not take a chance on opening a new primary care satellite office or may delay replacing older equipment.
Schumer said Wednesday that the bipartisan budget agreement reached earlier this month put the two hospital funding streams on firmer ground, with five years of life instead of one.
He had been pushing for permanent funding but said the five-year deal is still a major improvement over annual renewals, giving administrators more stability for planning.
“With the passage of the budget deal, we were able to give our hospitals, patients, and employees some peace of mind and give these hospitals across New York state a clean bill of health,” the senator said in a prepared statement. “Extending these programs for the next five years was a no-brainer, and that is why I have pushed for their vital inclusion. Now, these hospitals can continue to provide high-quality healthcare and serve as the lifeblood of rural communities across Upstate New York.”