Letter: Congress’ help needed

Dec. 14, 2013 @ 11:24 PM

To the editor:

Maria Parham Medical Center has a long and illustrious history and is proud to be part of this community. Like other community hospitals across the country, we are a major local employer, a significant taxpayer, a backbone for local economic and business development, and the sole point of access to hospital care close to home. You are probably unaware, but a critical rural Medicare program that directly helps our local hospital and hospitals throughout North Carolina is at risk — the Medicare Dependent Hospital (MDH) Payment program.

As you might imagine, hospitals in urban areas see more patients and serve a different demographic of people — often more privately insured and younger patients — than rural hospitals. The MDH program was designed to minimize these disparities, ensure fair reimbursement and protect rural hospitals’ ability to maintain the same levels of quality and regulatory compliance as their urban counterparts. However, the program expired in October, and time is running short to save it.

Congress must take action to extend the MDH program and protect our community hospitals, which have been jeopardized by more than $95 billion in Medicare and Medicaid spending cuts from the federal government. We urge Congressman G.K. Butterfield to join the bipartisan group of lawmakers that is working to make this happen. In the past he has been very supportive of rural hospitals in their mission of making our communities healthier.

Rest assured that at Maria Parham Medical Center our caregivers, nurses and doctors are committed to meeting the needs of the community and providing the highest quality care to our patients. But it is more important than ever that Congress take action to prevent further cuts.

This is a bipartisan effort to protect our hospitals and we sincerely hope our congressman and those across the country will support it.

Bob Singletary

Henderson

Jim Johnson

Watkins