Congress passed and the President quickly signed into law a stop-gap measure funding government for three weeks, until February 9. Included in this Continuing Resolution (CR) was a six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Unfortunately, the CR did not include important Medicare extender payment policies, including the Medicare Dependent Hospital (MDH) and Low Volume Adjustment (LVA), or community health center funding.
Under the CR, CHIP is funded through 2023. States will continue to receive an enhanced matching rate, which began under the Affordable Care Act, through 2019. That rate will be reduced by half in 2020 and then revert to the normal CHIP matching rate in 2021.
“WHA strongly supports the CHIP program and is relieved CHIP funding was extended six years,” said WHA President/CEO Eric Borgerding. “However, we are disturbed that Medicare extenders and other key funding issues have been left by the wayside even though their funding also expired last September.”
In Wisconsin, approximately 15 rural hospitals qualify as an MDH or LVA hospital. These programs were created to assist smaller, non-critical access hospitals with either very high or low Medicare populations.
“The MDH and LVA programs are targeted at a small set of hospitals that face unique circumstances,” said Borgerding. “As such, not only are the programs a cost-effective way for the federal government to ensure access to care in rural areas, but the programs are essential for keeping these rural hospitals financially healthy.”
Congress must now turn its attention to negotiating yet another stop-gap funding measure, as many do not foresee a full year funding agreement being negotiated by February 9. As Congress negotiates another CR and a longer-term funding bill, WHA urges the Wisconsin Delegation to protect and fund the MDH and LVA programs along with community health centers but without cutting other Medicare hospital payments to do so.