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Sun., Oct. 4
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Fiscal Cliff law places burden on area hospitals


MASSENA - As a result of the agreement in Washington to avoid the Fiscal Cliff, Massena Memorial Hospital will see modest short-term financial gains, followed by more significant long-term losses.

MMH stands to gain $395,000 this year as part of the agreement, but will lose a projected $935,000 between 2014 and 2022, according to school officials.

As part of the agreement, there will be a one-year delay in the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate, which will reduce physician payments by 27 percent. The $25 billion cost of the delay is expected to reduce medicare payments to New York state hospitals by $1.3 billion over the next 10 years.

“We believe that the high cost of this delay may result in misdirected and harmful reductions in hospitals throughout the country,” MMH Chief Executive Officer Charles F. Fahd II said in a statement.

The changes come in an already difficult fiscal time for the hospital. The hospital’s financial and statistical summary for the period ending Dec. 31 reported a year to date loss of $2,379.854 net loss in a year when net patient revenue dropped by 9.6 percent. The hospital had shown a year to date profit of $1.4 million on Dec. 31, 2011.

The hospital had an 11.3 percent drop in in-patient discharges in 2012 compared to the prior year and emergency room visits dropped by 6.6 percent from 19,796 in 2011 to 18,491 in 2012.

With that backdrop, one positive hospital officials see in the agreement is the extension of the Medicare Dependent Hospital Program and Medicare Low-Volume Hospital Payment Adjustment, which are projected to generate $7 and $9 million, respectively, for New York state hospitals over the next 10 years.

It’s difficult for MMH officials to project how they will offset the reductions in future years, as they do not know how much funding MMH will receive in reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid, according to Tina Corcoran, senior director of Public Relations and Planning for MMH.

Ms. Corcoran said hospital officials plan to generate additional revenue by bringing new physicians and services to MMH, such as the walk-in clinic.

The walk-in clinic was opened early last December and is already exceeding the expectations of MMH officials. The clinic is on track to receive a total of 700 patients this month.

The clinic provides services that include evaluating injuries and illnesses; ordering tests; evaluating test results; conducting physicals; performing allergy immunization, providing that the patient has his or her serum on hand; and more, according to Joe Lamp, a physician assistant who will staff MMH’s walk-in clinic. It is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

“I absolutely think bringing new services like the walk-in clinic and new physicians that facilitate the needs of the community will definitely help us with financing,” Ms. Corcoran said.

Ms. Corcoran noted MMH recently hired Dr. David McCall, a family medical physician, and Dr. Kejian Tang, the first neurologist hired by MMH. “That’s a whole new service for us. We’re very excited,” Ms. Corcoran said.

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