Carper, Coons, Carney Praise Proposal to Preserve Access to Care for Seniors in Seaford

WILMINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons and U.S. Representative John Carney (all D-Del.) applauded a proposal by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) to provide transitional funding relief for Medicare Dependent Hospital (MDH) status to the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford. The transitional funding will help ensure Medicare patients would continue to have access to care at the hospital and the hospital will be able to continue serving the people of Sussex County in many ways.

In 2013, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reclassified Delaware as an all-urban state, based on the 2010 Census figures for Sussex County. Beginning in 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services adopted the new OMB designations, resulting in Nanticoke Memorial Hospital being reclassified from a rural to an urban hospital. This revised status changes the reimbursement rates for Medicare patients, which had been increased due to the hospital’s status as an MDH. While hospitals in other states had the opportunity to retain their rural classification for the purposes of MDH status, Delaware’s all-urban status prevented this.

In the months since the change, Delaware’s Congressional delegation has worked with CMS to find a solution that would ensure Medicare patients in Seaford and Sussex County continue to have access to high-quality care. In late February, Sen. Carper met with Acting Administrator Andrew Slavitt to request multi-year transition assistance that was afforded to other hospitals that have been similarly reclassified.

“I want to thank Acting Administrator Slavitt for taking this initial step toward providing crucial funding for Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, a vital health care provider relied on by thousands of Delawareans in Sussex County,” Sen. Carper said. “Nanticoke Memorial plays an important role in the Delaware health care system by caring for a tremendous number of the First State’s Medicare patients. This transitional funding would provide an important bridge to what I know could be a bright future for the hospital.”

“Since 1945, Nanticoke Memorial Hospital has played an essential role in our state’s health care system by expanding access to quality care for thousands of patients in Sussex County,” said Senator Coons. “Unfortunately, due to a quirk in how the 2010 census impacts other federal programs, Nanticoke no longer qualifies for funding allocated to help rural hospitals expand services and better meet the needs of their community. Senator Carper, Representative Carney, and I worked closely with Nanticoke’s leadership over the past nine months to urge the Administration to protect the significant gains Nanticoke has achieved under this program. I am very pleased to hear that the Administration listened and has proposed a way for Nanticoke to continue to benefit from this program for the next two years.”

“Nanticoke Memorial Hospital is dedicated to serving Sussex County and is a crucial provider within Delaware’s healthcare network,” said Congressman Carney. “I’m happy we were able to come together to find a reasonable compromise and to provide transitional funding. I look forward to continuing to work with Nanticoke to ensure that they have the resources they need to continue providing excellent care to Delawareans.”

“This is wonderful news for Nanticoke Memorial Hospital and the people of Sussex County,” said Steve Rose, President and CEO Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. “Our congressional delegation, Senator Carper, Senator Coons, and Congressman Carney, worked tirelessly to remedy this oversight in the regulations that would, if left unaddressed, have negatively impacted the provision of healthcare to our communities. We are grateful to Delaware’s Congressional delegation and to CMS for working together to help us with a solution that will benefit Sussex County.”

The rule proposed by CMS would provide transitional funding to ease the transition away from MDH reimbursement rates at Nanticoke Hospital for two years, beginning on January 1, 2016.