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Congressman Tom MacArthur

Representing the 3rd District of New Jersey

MacArthur, Carney & Pascrell Fight for Rural Hospitals

July 14, 2016
Press Release

Washington, D.C. - Congressman Tom MacArthur (NJ-03), Congressman John Carney (DE-At Large) and Congressman Bill Pascrell (NJ-09) today announced legislation to help community hospitals receive important reimbursements. The Fairness for Our Hospitals Act will play a critical role to assist rural hospitals, like Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Browns Mills, New Jersey and Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford, Delaware, by closing an unfair loophole in federal law which prevents rural hospitals in small states from receiving vital funding from the Medicare Dependent Hospital Program (MDH).

This serious problem prompted a partnership between Congressman MacArthur, Congressman Carney, and Congressman Pascrell. Both hospitals are excluded from a program that benefits rural hospitals that serve high rates of Medicare dependent patients. In most cases, hospitals can apply for the MDH, and if they meet a variety of qualifications they receive funding from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).  This program allows hospitals to remain open and functional despite losing money on higher than average numbers of Medicare patients. 

Unfortunately, CMS considers New Jersey and Delaware “all-urban” states and disqualifies them from applying for the MDH program on a technicality.  Both Deborah and Nanticoke meet the MDH eligibility criteria in every other respect, and both are situated in regions that are considered rural by every other metric. This legislation will allow rural hospitals to continue serving the medical needs of thousands of Americans located in rural areas.

 “The quality care Deborah provides for our residents is among the best in the nation, and they have managed to do this despite not being fairly paid by CMS for serving higher numbers of Medicare patients in South Jersey,” said Congressman MacArthur. “This unjust loophole has allowed Deborah to fall through the cracks and they deserve the assistance this program would provide. Thank you to Congressman Carney and Congressman Pascrell for partnering on this legislation to provide relief for our rural hospitals.”

“Hospitals shouldn’t be punished just because they’re located in a small state,” said Congressman Carney. “That’s why I’m proud to join Congressman MacArthur in introducing the Fairness to our Hospitals Act. In Delaware, Nanticoke Memorial Hospital provides vital services to the community around it. It just makes sense that it should be eligible to receive the same reimbursements as other hospitals in rural areas across the country. I look forward to continuing to work with Congressman MacArthur to advance this legislation.”    

“As New Jersey’s only member on the House Committee on Ways and Means, which has primarily jurisdiction over Medicare, I am proud to introduce the Fairness for Our Hospitals Act with my friend Rep. MacArthur,” said Congressman Pascrell. “We have been working together to get CMS to apply the law correctly and ensure that Deborah is treated fairly for the purposes of Medicare payment given its unique classification.”

“Nanticoke is so fortunate to be represented by Congressman Carney in Washington DC,” said Steve Rose, President & Chief Executive Officer of Nanticoke Memorial Hospital.  “We are grateful for his tireless efforts on our behalf to level the playing field for the entire State of Delaware when it comes to Medicare reimbursement and appreciate all he has already done with Senators Coons and Carper, as well as his colleagues in New Jersey to try to pass this legislation.  This additional funding will help ensure that Nanticoke Memorial Hospital can continue to provide state-of-the-art health care to our patients and provide much needed services to the community.” 

“Deborah is thankful that our representatives have championed our cause,” said Joseph Chirichella, Deborah President and CEO. “Taking action to right this wrong will help Deborah continue to care for the large number of Medicare patients that come to us from our surrounding rural area.”