Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Frontier States' provision included in health care reform bill

In a previous post, I wrote about the Frontier States' provision that had been inserted into the health care reform bill. I wasn't sure if that had survived the Congressional hubbub and hoopla and horse-trading of the past few months. But it did.

Here's info from the Wyoming Democratic Party:

One provision included in the health insurance reform legislation that passed the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday will increase Medicare reimbursement rates for rural states, including Wyoming. The Frontier States provision is designed to ease the burden on rural physicians and hospitals by significantly adjusting Medicare reimbursement rates.

The Frontier States provision applies to states that have 50% or more counties designated as 'frontier counties' - meaning a population density of less than six people per square mile. Under such criteria, the Congressional Budget Office has indicated that those states include Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah, and they will receive an estimated $2 billion among them over the next 10 years.

"This is one dramatic and tangible way that we will see health reform begin to almost immediately take effect in Wyoming. Increasing reimbursement rates for physicians and hospitals will offer much needed support to strained budgets and allow our health providers focus on exactly what they should be - the health and wellbeing of their patients," explained Leslie Petersen, State Chair of the Wyoming Democratic Party.

The Frontier States provision will go into effect in two phases. The first will raise the Medicare reimbursement rate for hospital outpatient services beginning on October 1, 2010. The second will increase the reimbursement rate for physician services and for hospital inpatient services beginning January 1, 2011.

Petersen continued, "Wyoming's people will soon begin to enjoy the many positive effects this legislation is going to immediately have, including: tax credits for small businesses of up to 35% of premiums, temporary high risk pools for adults who have been denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions, a $250 rebate for Medicare recipients who fall into the Part D donut hole, and temporary reinsurance programs for recent retirees struggling to pay premiums.

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