Extend thanks to our congressional delegation

Posted on: 7/3/19

In the past several weeks, OHA has been working with other southern states’ hospital associations on advocacy to support proposed changes to the average wage index by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The proposed rule by HHS will rebalance the wage index to pay rural hospitals more fairly. Please thank the following members of Congress who signed on to support the HHS wage index proposal in favor of rural hospitals and in assistance of Oklahoma:
Congressman Kevin Hern (1st Congressional District: Tulsa, Bartlesville, Broken Arrow, Owasso, Bixby)
Congressman Tom Cole (4th Congressional District: Norman, Ada, Ardmore, Lawton)
Congresswoman Kendra Horn (5th Congressional District: Oklahoma County to Shawnee and Seminole)
OHA requested support for the HHS proposed rule titled “Fiscal Year 2020 Medicare Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System and Long Term Acute Care Hospital Prospective Payment System Proposed Rule and Request for Information” (CMS-1716-P), as it relates to improving payments for hospitals below the 25th percentile on the wage index. This proposal is much-needed to ensure that the one in five Americans living in rural areas have access to health care.

The current wage index policy compounds inequities between rural and urban areas and pits states like Oklahoma against California and New York. Because they receive higher Medicare payments, high wage index hospitals, which are primarily located in urban areas, can attract a better workforce through higher wages. Low wage index hospitals, by contrast, often cannot pay the compensation needed to recruit the physicians and other providers who are so desperately needed in rural America. This becomes self-perpetuating, as low wage index hospitals are stuck in a downward spiral that makes payments for rural hospitals and other low wage index hospitals decline over time.

OHA continues to strongly encourage HHS to finalize the rule promptly through the Oklahoma delegation. If you would take a moment to extend appreciation to the congressional delegation for their support, that would be helpful. (Sandra Harrison)

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