Sequim Gazette staff
A new bill filed by Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, could be worth a million dollars a year to Olympic Medical Center.
Senate Bill 5859, co-sponsored by Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, creates a classification for certain rural hospitals in order to align state Medicaid reimbursement rates with federal Medicare compensation rates.
If it’s signed into law, the bill would provide approximately $1 million of additional reimbursement annually for outpatient Medicaid to OMC.
The center is reimbursed at a rate of 55 percent of cost for outpatient Medicaid services. Hargrove’s bill would increase that percentage to 70 percent of cost.
Hargrove said rural hospitals have been especially hit hard by the recession, with more patients relying on Medicaid and Medicare to cover their costs.
The reimbursements received by these hospitals are often less than the cost for services provided.
He said that in response to the growing costs, many small rural hospitals have been forced to make difficult cuts, adding that doctors and nurses are already stretched thin, many of them performing duties outside of the scope of their job duties.
“By moving this legislation forward, we not only ensure our citizens will have access to a quality hospital, we also retain jobs,” Hargrove said.
OMC CEO Eric Lewis expressed his support of the bill, saying, “We appreciate Sen. Hargrove’s leadership and vigilance on this bill, and his work to get it out of the Senate. Now we are urging our local state representatives – Steve Tharinger and Kevin Van De Wege – to continue this effort in the House.
“This reimbursement fix is significant and we need it now to help us preserve services, particularly for our elderly and low income.”