Hospitals across Alabama are facing tough decisions due to our continued low Medicare reimbursement rates and the inequitable Wage Index. Although Alabama hospitals care for 880,000 Medicare eligibles, we are typically paid less than hospitals in other states providing the same care. The difference is caused by a formula used to calculate Medicare payments called the “wage index.”
The wage index is a complicated formula used nationwide to determine how much a hospital is paid for providing care to Medicare patients. Alabama has always been at the bottom in terms of payments. Because of this low wages index, hospitals in some states get paid twice as much as hospitals in Alabama for delivering the same services to Medicare patients.
Many hospitals, like Medical West, are heavily Medicare dependent and depend on payments from the federal government. Unfortunately, these payments are often reduced each year or fail to keep pace with rising inflation. This challenges hospitals like Medical West to keep pace with rising costs and when evaluating new health care services, community health programs and new technology. Without a more equitable wage index, the future of the Alabama hospital industry is at risk.
Additionally, Alabama hospitals most often are one of the largest employers in their communities, providing 80,000 jobs in Alabama and contributing $18.2 billion to the state’s economy. It is imperative that we encourage Congress not to penalize Alabama hospitals for operating efficiently and keeping costs low for patients.
Help us keep our commitment to care by asking Congress for fair payment for the services we provide to our patients. Listed below is the contact information for our Senators and Congressmen. For more information, please visit alaha.org or watch the YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=TFdkNrZU7k0.
Senator Jeff Sessions
326 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
Senator Richard Shelby
304 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DDC 20510
The Honorable Spencer Bachus (Representative Alabama District 6)
2246 RHOB House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Tel: (202) 225-4921
Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (Representative Alabama District 7)
Two 20th Street North, Suite 1130
Birmingham, AL 35203
Phone: (205) 254-1960