Congressman MacArthur Successfully Fights for Deborah Hospital and Seniors on Medicare
Washington, DC—Today, Congressman Tom MacArthur announced his bipartisan legislation the Fairness for Our Hospitals Act was included in the Continuing Resolution that passed the House. This will provide Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Burlington County with millions of dollars each year and will allow the hospital to continue its mission of providing patients with access to high-quality care, including the many senior citizens and veterans that Deborah serves.
Congressman MacArthur has worked tirelessly on this issue since coming to Congress, and has advocated directly with the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Congressman Kevin Brady, about the importance of this fix for his constituents in South Jersey.
This is not the first time that MacArthur has helped South Jersey hospitals better serve his constituents. In 2017, he led a successful bipartisan effort urging the extension of a key Medicare policy—the imputed rural floor—to provide New Jersey hospitals with fair and equitable payments to support physicians and other health care professionals providing care to NJ residents. Congressman MacArthur advocated directly for this extension with HHS Secretary Tom Price, which provided $36.4 million in federal funding for 17 New Jersey hospitals. He was joined by U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, and Congressmen Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09) and Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02) in this effort.
“Since I was elected, I’ve been working closely with Deborah and House leadership to fix this unfair loophole and ensure the hospital can continue providing state-of-the-art health care and services to our community,” said Congressman Tom MacArthur. “I’m grateful for the contributions and the bipartisan support of Congressman Pascrell who joined this fight and am hopeful the Senate will pass this vital legislation. South Jersey is proud of the quality care we provide to seniors, veterans, and others in our communities and I’ll continue to stand up for them in Congress.”
“With its small size and dense population set between two major cities, the Garden State can be an anomaly in many ways, including in how federal policies treat our hospitals,” stated Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09), New Jersey’s only member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees the Medicare program. “Deborah Heart and Lung Center does a tremendous job for its patients dealing with cardiac, vascular and lung diseases. I am pleased to advocate for the interests of health facilities statewide, including Deborah, to ensure New Jersey patients have access to the highest quality health care possible.”
“On behalf of Deborah Heart and Lung Center, our patients, employees and the rural communities we serve, I want to thank Congressmen Tom MacArthur and Bill Pascrell, Jr for their unwavering commitment and tireless efforts to pass bipartisan legislation allowing us to participate in the Rural Medicare Dependent Hospital program,” said Joseph Chirichella, Deborah President and CEO. “We are grateful for everything they did to correct this longstanding injustice and are thrilled that the additional resources we will receive as a result of this designation will allow us to sustain Deborah’s humanitarian mission of providing the highest quality health care without directly billing any patient in our rural service area. The collaboration of these two outstanding elected officials demonstrates that our government can still be responsive to the people and can absolutely make a significant and positive difference in the lives of every day New Jerseyans.”
Congressman MacArthur and Senator Menendez introduced The Fairness for Our Hospitals Act in their respective Chambers in 2017. It is cosponsored by Reps. Pascrell, Jr. and Lisa Blunt-Rochester (D-Del.) in the House of Representatives and Sens. Booker, Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Christopher Coons (D-Del.) in the Senate.
The legislation closes an unfair loophole in federal law that prevents rural hospitals in states like New Jersey from participating in the Medicare Dependent Hospital Program (MDH), which helps support small rural hospitals that serve Medicare patients.
New Jersey is designated as one of only three “all-urban” states, along with Delaware and Rhode Island. As a result, local hospitals that would otherwise qualify, like Deborah, are denied additional Medicare reimbursements; this inequality is unfair and against the intent and goals of the Medicare program.
To qualify for rural MDH payments, the hospital must be in a rural area; have 100 or fewer beds during the cost reporting period; cannot already be classified as Sole Community Hospital (another rural-only hospital designation); and at least 60% of its patients must use Medicare.
Deborah is a not-for-profit specialty hospital dedicated to cardiac and pulmonary care located in the heart of New Jersey’s Pine Barrens. It accepts Medicare and other insurance, but has traditionally provided its patients with high-quality care at zero out-of-pocket expense.