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Medicare Program Funding Cut From Rural Hospitals

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Buffalo: Medicare Program Funding Cut From Rural Hospitals
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Funding for key Medicare programs expired in September and now Senator Chuck Schumer is working to restore it to area hospitals. YNN's Mark Goshgarian reports on the effort to help revive the programs in rural communities across the Southern Tier.

CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY, N.Y. — They are key programs that provide funding to rural hospitals across the Southern Tier.

"The funding is very critical to Westfield Memorial Hospital," said Kandy Susi, Westfield Memorial Hospital Director.

Yet funding for the Low Volume Hospital and Medicare Dependent Hospital Programs expired at the end of September.

"Without it, we need to look at the services we provide to see where we any be able to scale back," said Susi.

Senator Charles Schumer recently introduced legislation and launched a letter writing campaign to help restore the money.

He says the end of the program could also force hospital administrators to cut quality health care jobs as well.

"We really run a very lean operation and we really need the staff that we have, so that would be an absolute last resort," said Susi.

If the funding cut stands, Westfield Memorial will lose more than $67,000; the TLC Network, more than $165,000; Bertrand Chaffee in Springville close to $260,000; and Brooks Memorial in Dunkirk, more than half a million dollars.

In a statement, Lake Erie Regional Health System President and CEO Jonathan Lawrence said, "The failure to adopt legislation to reverse these cuts will necessarily result in the loss of vital jobs and valued health services in our communities."

To help prevent that at Westfield, Susi says she is keeping in touch with Schumer's office.

"They're very responsive, supportive to hospitals like Westfield and we're very hopeful that his legislation is successful," said Susi.

If Schumer's legislation goes through, the program will be extended one year and payments will be retroactive to September 30th.

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