Kilmer Commits to Supporting Rural Hospitals

Wednesday, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer applauded the decision of a federal judge on Tuesday to overturn a policy from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) known as “site neutral reimbursement.” The policy would have the effect of cutting Medicare reimbursements by up to 60% for multi-campus regional hospitals, like Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles, that provide services via a network of clinics that are intended to make health care more accessible to patients.

“This ruling is great news for hospitals seeking to provide affordable care in rural communities, especially in areas where we already face a shortage of qualified care providers,” said Rep. Kilmer. “Hospitals should be encouraged to bring their services closer to the people they care for, not be penalized for it. That’s why earlier this year, I introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure that regional hospitals, like Olympic Medical Center, can continue to make health care more accessible to more people. Tuesday’s decision will help keep access to care in rural regions and keep jobs in rural communities.”

“The Court Ruling is outstanding for Olympic Medical Center, our patients, and the rural healthcare delivery system,” said Eric Lewis, Chief Executive Officer, Olympic Medical Center. “Off-campus facilities are critical in providing access to care to otherwise underserved areas and this is particularly true for Olympic Medical Center and the communities it serves. We greatly appreciate the support of Representative Kilmer in fighting to stop this 60% cut. This Court ruling is a huge step forward in maintaining and expanding patient access to needed physician clinic services in Clallam County and many other underserved areas across our nation”

“We are pleased with the District Court’s decision that the Department of Health and Human Services exceeded its statutory authority when it reduced payments for certain hospital outpatient services,” said Tom Nickels, Executive Vice President, American Hospital Association. “The ruling will allow hospitals to maintain access to important services for patients and communities. Congressional efforts led by Representative Derek Kilmer to restore the policy Congress intended continue to be key to raising awareness about this issue. Now that the court has ruled, it is up to the agency to repay the amounts improperly withheld to assure the affected hospitals can continue to serve patients in their communities.” 

“This ruling is a win for patients. It will help hospitals continue to provide access to care for those who need it most – especially in rural and underserved communities,” said Steve Speil, Executive Vice President of Policy, Federation of American Hospitals. “We applaud Reps. Kilmer and Stefanik for being leaders in Congress on this important issue and recognizing the harmful impact of this policy on patients.”

Earlier this year, Rep. Kilmer introduced the Protecting Local Access to Care for Everyone (PLACE) Act (H.R. 2552) to halt the policy and help hospitals, including Olympic Medical Center, continue to provide affordable care in rural communities. 

In addition to introducing the legislation, the House Appropriations Committee voted to include language authored by Rep. Kilmer in the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill expressing concern about the site neutral policy and urging CMS to reconsider the rule and take into account the potential effects to hospitals like OMC that are designated as a Sole Community Hospital and are located in a Health Professional Shortage Area.