Now N.J. lawmakers are working to overturn another rule costing hospitals in the state another $100 million.
In its final year in office, the Trump administration removed Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties from the New York-Newark-Jersey City statistical area used to determine Medicare reimbursement rates.
Instead, they were grouped together in a new classification, lowering the Medicare reimbursement rates for hospitals in those three counties, costing them an estimated $100 million.
This was the second time Donald Trump took administrative actions penalizing New Jersey’s hospitals. In 2018, the administration ruled that New Jersey’s rural hospitals were no eligible for extra Medicare reimbursements to cover the higher costs of treating patients in less-populated areas.
The state had received a waiver since 2005 because New Jersey had been classified as all-urban, meaning that the hospitals serving rural populations did not qualify for the funding.
U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez won a provision in the stimulus law to restore the hospitals’ eligibility for the higher rates.
The New Jerseyans on the congressional committees that oversee Medicare, Menendez and Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., have led an effort to get new U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to drop the rule.
“As we enter the second year of this pandemic, hospitals in our state continue to provide essential care to New Jersey residents while incurring the dual impact of skyrocketing expenses and plunging revenue,” the lawmakers wrote. “To advance the policy in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis that heavily impacted our hospitals showed a lack of foresight and understanding of this policy’s impact.”
At the very least, the lawmakers wrote, HHS should wait until the 2020 Census is completed so the agency has the latest data to make decisions.
HHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Also signing the letter were U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and Reps. Andy Kim, D-3rd Dist., Josh Gottheimer, D-5th Dist., Frank Pallone Jr.,D-6th Dist., Tom Malinowski, D-7th Dist., and Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-12th Dist.
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