News Releases

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Working with a bipartisan group of colleagues, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) succeeded in removing language from the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill that would have increased Medicare payments to several New York and Pennsylvania hospitals already reimbursed at rates above the national average. The language was inserted into the bill by the House Rules Committee and approved by the House in its version of the supplemental appropriations measure.

The House Rules Committee approved reclassifying some hospitals in suburban New York and Pennsylvania, into a higher Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which would thereby increase their Medicare reimbursement rates.

Senator Murray and her colleagues noted that Medicare reimbursement rates are a national problem, particularly for the 35 states that are reimbursed for Medicare at rates below the national average.

Washington state ranks 42nd nationally in Medicare reimbursement rates. New York ranks 3rd and Pennsylvania ranks 6th.

"This language would have rewarded states that already receive reimbursements for Medicare above Washington state and above the national average. The language was inserted and protected by the House leadership for political reasons," Murray said. "We need to address real inequities in Medicare reimbursement rates like those we face in Washington state rather than treating Medicare as a political favor."

In May, Senator Murray introduced the MediFair Act, which would ensure that seniors in Washington state receive the national average reimbursements per beneficiary. It would ensure that every state receives at least the national average of per-patient spending.

In 2000, Medicare spent $3,921 per patient in Washington state, while the national average was $5,490 per patient. Medicare reimbursed New York $6,924 per enrollee and Pennsylvania $6,349 per enrollee.

States receiving inordinately high payments would be forced to improve the quality and efficiency of their healthcare. Payments would be reduced to those states, which do not realize healthy outcomes, like extending life expectancy or reducing rates of diabetes or heart disease.

"The Medi-Fair Act will ensure that seniors aren't punished when they choose to live in Washington state," Murray said. "It will encourage more doctors to accept Medicare patients, and will ensure that retirees and patients about to retire can still find a doctor of their choosing."