Medicare cuts to hit OMC

PORT ANGELES — The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will cut payments for patient visits to Olympic Medical Center’s off-site clinics by 60 percent despite a flood of letters defending the local health care system.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, issued its final outpatient rule on site neutral policies on Friday.

OMC’s feared cuts to hospital-based reimbursement will occur over the next two years.

The final rule phases in the 60-percent cut to OMC in practice expense reimbursement for patient visits more than 250 yards from the Port Angeles hospital, OMC officials said Friday.

As a result, reimbursement to OMC will be cut by about $1.7 million in 2019 and another $1.7 million in 2020, officials said.

“CMS made the worst decision I have seen in my career even though Clallam County residents, community organizations, employees and providers sent in 1,780 letters to CMS to make the case that local health care is important to Clallam County,” OMC CEO Eric Lewis said.

“Over the two-year phase-in of these cuts, OMC will lose approximately $3.4 million. We will not give up without a fight, however, and we appreciate the outpouring of support our community has shown to OMC.

“We owe a tremendous amount of thanks to our community for coming together to speak up for adequate reimbursement for our rural health care delivery system,” Lewis added.

“I am humbled by the support and look forward to continuing our efforts as a community to reverse this bad policy decision.”

In a guest column that appeared on the Commentary Page of the Peninsula Daily News on Sept. 19, Lewis said the CMS outpatient rule would cut Medicare reimbursement for OMC’s off-site, hospital-based clinics from $118.35 per visit to $47.34 per visit.

OMC, which has a large Sequim campus and off-side clinics in Port Angeles, is the second most affected hospital in the state and the 53rd most affected hospital in the country, Lewis said.

Lewis and other OMC officials will work with federal lawmakers to propose legislation to amend the outpatient rule and will seek other ways to oppose the CMS decision, officials said.

“I consider this very bad policy at the national level and it is quite concerning that leaders of CMS have implemented this policy,” Lewis said.

“We need to continue to fight to preserve local health care and adequate Medicare reimbursement for Clallam County.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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