MANSFIELD -- MedCentral/Mansfield Hospital will qualify for Medicare reimbursements on par with those received by Columbus-area hospitals, a change that could bring an additional $6 million a year to the facility.

The announcement came in a news release issued this week by Sen. Sherrod Brown's office.

"Because of its unique placement in Richland County, MedCentral received lower Medicare reimbursement rates than hospitals in the Columbus area received, even though it competed with those same hospitals for patients and employees," Brown said.

MedCentral spokeswoman Cindy Jakubick said the hospital system became aware of the discrepancy in Medicare reimbursements in the 1990s and has been working since to correct it.

"We had spoken to our legislators about this very situation for a number of years," Jakubick said. "We're pleased and grateful by the actions of Sen. Brown's office to allow us to be more competitive, particularly with hospitals to the south."

MedCentral sought reclassification from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to the Columbus-area wage index.

To qualify for a geographic wage index reclassification, a hospital in an urban area must meet three criteria, including wages that are 108 percent of other hospitals in the area. MedCentral Health System meets two of the three requirements but, because it is the only hospital in the Mansfield Metropolitan Statistical Area, it could not meet the 108 percent test.

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