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Proposed legislation would grant nearly $4 million permanently to area hospitals

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A piece of legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer that would grant $14 million annually to 22 upstate hospitals — including nearly $4 million to hospitals in the north country — passed the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday.

The proposed legislation, which still needs to pass the full Senate, would also prevent five hospitals statewide — including Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone, Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center in Ogdensburg and Canton-Potsdam Hospital in Potsdam — from being removed from the Low-Volume Hospital Program.

That program gives enhanced Medicare adjustments to hospitals that fit its criteria.

To qualify, a hospital must be more than 15 road miles away from another comparable hospital and have fewer than 1,600 Medicare discharges yearly.

According to a press release issued by Sen. Schumer, D-N.Y., the LVH program provides additional funds to hospitals that serve fewer patients.

Additional funding would include $553,000 for E.J. Noble Hospital of Gouverneur; $614,000 for Claxton-Hepburn; $480,000 for Canton-Potsdam Hospital; $457,000 for Massena Memorial Hospital; $717,000 for Lewis County General Hospital, Lowville; $484,000 for Carthage Area Hospital and $491,000 for Alice Hyde.

Currently, such funding must be renewed each year. The program that provided such funding expired Sept. 30. The proposed legislation would make these payments permanent, in an effort to boost security and certainty for low-volume, rural hospitals.

The proposed legislation would also provide funding for hospitals that qualify in the Medicare-Dependent Hospital Program. It requires hospitals to be in a rural area, have 100 beds or fewer, not be classified as a Sole Community Hospital and have at least 60 percent of inpatient days or discharges covered by Medicare. Though no hospitals in the north country qualify in the MDH program, six in the state would receive additional funding permanently.

“I am thrilled that my legislation, which will provide life-saving funding to 22 rural hospitals in Upstate New York, has cleared this key hurdle in the Senate Finance Committee,” Sen. Schumer said.

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