Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-NM) today welcomed House passage of H.R. 5613, Protecting the Medicaid Safety Net Act of 2008 by an overwhelming vote of 349-62. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.
The bill passed today would place a moratorium on seven different Medicaid rules until March of 2009. Each of the regulations has been issued in the last year. Some of the rules are currently in place, while others are set to be implemented in May of this year. One rule that would be halted is a regulation eliminating Medicaid graduate medical education (GME) payments. Wilson heard from medical residents at the University of New Mexico about the importance of this funding to the UNM residency program and its ability to train doctors in New Mexico.
Wilson is concerned with one rule in particular – CMS-2258-P – that would prevent states from using certain local taxes to put up their share to match federal dollars. It would also mandate Medicaid to pay only the cost of services, and not supplemental payments to public hospitals.
“Implementation of this rule would result in a loss of $114 million in federal funding annually to rural hospitals in New Mexico, undoubtedly impacting patient care and quality,” Wilson said. “Limiting Medicaid reimbursement for public hospitals to only cost would cut funding for the Level 1 Trauma Center at the University of New Mexico, the only trauma center of this caliber in the state, by $40 million each year.
“Thanks to House passage of this bill, we are taking steps to stop this regulation that would have a calamitous impact on the health care facilities available to rural residents.”
The rule unfairly burdens the state of New Mexico because of the Sole Community Provider program in place in rural areas since 1993 and previously approved by the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS). This program helps rural communities that only have one hospital to receive funding for care of local patients.
The Sole Community Provider program uses local property taxes and gross receipts taxes to put up the county’s share of funds that are sent to the state and used for matching funds. However, CMS has said that under the new rule, county indigent funds would not be allowable for use to put up to match the federal money, essentially terminating New Mexico’s Sole Community Provider program. The bill passed today fixes this problem.
Wilson has fought the implementation of this rule in the past. Last year, Wilson sent letters to Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt and Office of Management and Budget Director Rob Portman, stating her strong opposition to this proposed Medicaid rule.
Hospitals in New Mexico that are considered Sole Community Providers include:
San Juan Regional Hospital in Farmington
St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe
Lincoln County Medical Center in Ruidoso
Eastern New Mexico Medical Center in Roswell
Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital in Gallup
Cibola Hospital in Grants
Miner’s Colfax Medical Center in Raton
Clovis Plains Regional Medical Center in Clovis
Memorial Medical Center in Las Cruces
Mountain View Regional Hospital in Las Cruces
Carlsbad Medical Center
Gila Regional Hospital in Silver City
Guadalupe County Hospital in Santa Rosa
Lea Regional Medical Center in Hobbs
Mimbres Hospital in Deming
Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo
Dr. Dan Trigg Memorial Hospital in Tucumcari
Roosevelt General Hospital in Portales
Alta Vista Regional Hospital in Las Vegas
Sierra Vista Hospital in Truth or Consequences
Socorro General Hospital
Holy Cross Hospital in Taos
Union County Hospital in Clayton
Los Alamos Medical Center
These hospitals serve thousands of people throughout New Mexico living in rural areas with limited access to health care facilities.
Wilson is a member of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, with jurisdiction over Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, the FDA, and public health issues.