Ambulances will continue to care for those with Medicare

The fight to keep ambulances able to help those with Medicare coverage has passed.

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that his priorities to extend two Medicare payment programs that are critical to rural hospitals and his legislation to continue payments to ambulance service providers has been extended through April 1, 2014.

Schumer explained that he fought to include both bills in the Sustainable Growth Rate legislation, which passed out of the Senate Finance Committee last Thursday. A three month extension of SGR and other health programs was attached to today’s bipartisan budget agreement, which passed the Senate with a vote of 64-36, and will now go to the President’s desk for his signature.

“It’s great news that our rural upstate New York hospitals and ambulance service providers will continue to receive critical Medicare funding into the New Year, thanks to the extension of the programs in the just-passed bipartisan budget agreement,” said Schumer. “With this stop-gap funding in place, I can now fight for long-term funding for these life-saving programs so that Upstate New York residents can receive top-notch health and emergency care, and so that our hospitals and ambulance providers are fairly compensated for their work.”

The budget bill will continue critical Medicare payments for ambulance providers across upstate New York until April 1.

Low volume hospitals are those that are critical to the community but may not serve a high volume of patients. Since 1988, the Medicare program has recognized that these hospitals need additional support so that they can continue to provide high quality care to rural communities.

A low-volume hospital is defined as one that is more than 15 road miles from another comparable hospital and has fewer than 1,600 Medicare discharges a year.