N.J. Medicare Wage Index Floor Extended for Two Years

Aug 02, 2011, 15:30 ET from New Jersey Hospital Association

PRINCETON, N.J., Aug. 2, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced yesterday it would extend New Jersey's wage index floor policy for two years.

The announcement was the result of an intense lobbying campaign organized and executed by Sen. Robert Menendez (D) and the entire New Jersey congressional delegation, and accounts for approximately $90 million per year in Medicare payments to nearly 40 hospitals in the state.

"We are indebted to Sen. Menendez and the entire New Jersey delegation for their tireless efforts on behalf of New Jersey's hospitals," said NJHA President and CEO Betsy Ryan. "Without their leadership this would not have happened."  

The senator has long supported New Jersey's imputed floor policy, having successfully included a provision in the health reform law to ensure that the cost of the policy is spread nationwide and not only among the Garden State.  New Jersey's Medicare wage index floor has corrected years of unequal treatment for the state's hospitals by providing benefits similar to those granted to healthcare institutions in 48 other states through the rural hospital wage index floor. 

"New Jersey is uniquely positioned between the first and fifth largest cities in the country.  Being able to effectively compete for labor is critical to allowing hospitals to fulfill their care delivery missions," said NJHA Senior Vice President Sean Hopkins. "Extending the imputed wage index floor will infuse a greater potential for stability that wouldn't exist if it was discontinued.  

"We continued to ask for equity, fairness and a level playing field with the rest of the country and for New Jersey hospitals to be afforded the same consecutive and ongoing benefit as these other states.  In the end, Sen. Menendez and the delegation came through for us," said Hopkins.

The senator organized two letters to CMS, which were signed by the entire delegation, asking CMS to consider the extension. He also personally called upon senior White House officials to support New Jersey's floor.  In addition, U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-8) and Robert Andrews (D-1), as members of powerful healthcare committees, personally appealed to administration officials. 

NJHA also extends its thanks to the rest of the delegation for their steadfast support and determination, including Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D), Congressmen Frank LoBiondo (R-2), Jon Runyan (R-3), Chris Smith (D-4), Scott Garrett (R-5), Frank Pallone (D-6), Leonard Lance (D-7), Steve Rothman (D-9), Donald Payne (D-10), Rodney Frelinghuysen (D-11), Rush Holt (D-12) and Albio Sires (D-13).  

"This is a victory for New Jersey's hospitals, but more importantly, it is a victory for the patients we serve throughout the state," said Ryan.

SOURCE New Jersey Hospital Association



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