WASHINGTON, DC – Following efforts from Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mansfield’s MedCentral Hospital will now qualify for Medicare reimbursements on par with those that Columbus-area hospitals receive, helping reverse a $6 million annual loss in reimbursements for the hospital and allowing MedCentral to attract and retain top medical talent.
“Mansfield’s MedCentral Hospital has a history of providing excellent care to patients in north-central Ohio and beyond. But 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. “CMS has corrected a long-standing inequity with this ruling, and now MedCentral will receive a fair rate that will help it attract and retain doctors, nurses, and other hospital employees. MedCentral will now be able to provide better care to all its patients, including those that receive Medicare.”
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 could not meet the 108 percent test because there are no other hospitals in its area for comparison. MedCentral is the only hospital in the Mansfield Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), but its close proximity to Columbus means it regularly competes with Columbus hospitals for patients and employees.
MedCentral sought reclassification to the Columbus area wage index. Its continued exclusion from reclassification equates to an annual loss of approximately $6 million dollars in Medicare reimbursements. In the final rule released this week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) eliminated the 108 percent criterion for hospitals alone in their areas, meaning that MedCentral will now qualify for Medicare reimbursements equal to those that Columbus-area hospitals receive.
The ruling from CMS follows repeated efforts from Brown to fix existing regulations. Brown spoke with Acting Director of CMS, Dr. Donald Berwick, regarding the issue, and joined a letter sent to the Senate Finance Committee seeking a legislative fix to the issue.