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Congressman Tom MacArthur

Representing the 3rd District of New Jersey

MacArthur, Menendez Visit Deborah Heart & Lung, Announce Legislation to Allow Hospital to Further Mission of Treating Seniors on Medicare

September 6, 2016
Press Release

BROWNS MILLS N.J. –Congressman Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.-03) and Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) today announced a legislative fix for New Jersey hospitals in rural communities being denied equitable Medicare reimbursement rates.  This will allow Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Burlington County to continue its mission of providing patients with access to high-quality care.

“The care Deborah provides for our residents is among the best in the nation, and I’m pleased to partner with Senator Menendez on this important legislative fix to ensure Deborah can continue providing state-of-the-art health care and services to our community,” said Congressman MacArthur. “Our bipartisan legislation will make sure rural hospitals like Deborah, are never punished for serving the seniors in our communities.”

“The legislation we’re announcing today is a continuation of the work I’ve done throughout my entire tenure in the United States Senate on behalf of New Jersey’s hospitals and the patients they serve,” said Senator Menendez.  “Deborah’s mission of providing the best cardiac, pulmonary and vascular care—while never once billing a patient—is the model of what a hospital should be, and I will continue my efforts to ensure the Medicare program doesn’t discriminate against hospitals in New Jersey and other all-urban states.  I’ve been working closely with Deborah and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for years to ensure they’re not unfairly penalized due to the fact New Jersey is an all-urban state.  This legislation will ensure that federal law equitably recognizes our hospitals.”

The Fairness for Our Hospitals Act would close an unfair loophole in federal law that prevents rural hospitals in smaller states, like New Jersey, from receiving fair Medicare reimbursement levels from the Medicare Dependent Hospital Program (MDH).

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 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.

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

Congressman MacArthur and Senator Menendez introduced The Fairness for Our Hospitals Act in their respective Houses in July.  It is cosponsored by Reps. Pascrell, Jr. and John Carney (D-Del.) in the House of Representatives and Sens. Booker, Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Christopher Coons (D-Del.) in the Senate.

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