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ECH joins call to avoid sequester

Congressman Bill Owens of Plattsburgh, center, speaks with Elizabethtown Community Hospital CEO Rod Boula, left, and Jim Forcier, President of the ECH Board of Directors, left. Boula said that if the federal government allows the, "sequester," to happen, cutting federal funding to programs like Medicare, hospitals like ECH would suffer.

Congressman Bill Owens of Plattsburgh, center, speaks with Elizabethtown Community Hospital CEO Rod Boula, left, and Jim Forcier, President of the ECH Board of Directors, left. Boula said that if the federal government allows the, "sequester," to happen, cutting federal funding to programs like Medicare, hospitals like ECH would suffer. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— A local health center has joined with the Healthcare Association of New York to urge the United States Congress to do something.

Elizabethtown Community Hospital has joined with the state association to plead with national lawmakers to avoid the “sequester,” a series of cuts that would be made to federal programs if the federal government cannot come up with a budget deal before a March 1 deadline.

According to HANYS, the implementation of sequestration which would result in $2.13 billion in Medicare cuts to New York’s hospitals and health systems. These reductions are in addition to more than $20 billion cuts providers already face over the next 10 years in separate Medicare and federal Medicaid reductions.

Elizabethtown Community Hospital CEO Rod Boula said that the sequester would directly affect small, rural hospitals in aging communities, like ECH.

“Hospitals across the nation are going to be seriously affected by cuts to Medicare, including those in our region,” Boula said. “Essentially, hospitals will be paid less when caring for patients who have Medicare as their primary form of insurance; typically the older population. The cost of providing an X-ray isn’t falling. The hospital will still be expected to maintain its equipment and staff quality, but the amount that the hospital will be paid for it will be reduced. Continued cuts threaten the ability of hospitals to serve patients in our area.”

HANYS President Daniel Sisto echoed Boula’s statements that the cuts would hurt care.

“An additional $2 billion on top of the $20 billion in cuts our hospitals and health systems already face will have a profound impact on access to care,” said HANYS President Daniel Sisto. “This unprecedented level of reductions would significantly reduce patient access to care, and lead to longer drives and wait times, and additional layoffs and service reductions at facilities across the state.”

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