- The federal omnibus bill has been praised by the Florida Hospital Association President and CEO Mary Mayhew for its support of Florida’s hospitals.
- The bill waives the Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) Medicare 4 percent sequester for two years, which she states will provide financial relief for Florida’s hospitals.
- The bill also extends the low-volume and Medicare-dependent hospital programs, which provide support to safety net hospitals and prevent an estimated cost of over $5 million a year in Florida.
Florida Hospital Association President and CEO Mary Mayhew offered praise for the federal omnibus bill in a written piece, claiming that its passage provides renewed support for Florida’s hospitals.
Mayhew stated that the bill’s waiving of the Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) Medicare 4 percent sequester for two years provides financial relief for hospitals in Florida, which have been struggling with negative operating margins.
Mayhew wrote that median operating margins were down 44 percent compared to the same time period in 2021, claiming that the elimination of the sequester will help stabilize hospital finances as they balance budgets with increasing costs for labor, drugs, supplies, and equipment.
“Just before the end of 2022, Congress passed and the President signed an omnibus budget bill to fund government operations through the end of September,” she said. “The legislation includes a number of much-needed policies to support and advance the health care system, beleaguered after nearly three years of the pandemic.”
Another important provision of the bill, according to Mayhew, is the extension of the low-volume and Medicare-dependent hospital programs. The programs provide support to safety net hospitals, and she claims that eliminating them would have cost over $5 million a year in Florida.
In addition to financial relief, the bill also recognizes the shortage of physicians in Florida. As of the beginning of this year, the state is projected to have a shortage of 18,000 physicians by 2035. Despite the shortage, Mayhew says, hospitals are limited in their ability to add more residency slots due to federal law.
Mayhew applauded the provision as she claims it directly addresses the issue by creating 200 new Medicare-funded graduate medical education slots, 100 of which are dedicated to psychiatry residencies.
“The omnibus budget package sends a strong statement of support for Florida’s hospitals and the essential work they do in communities across the state,” continued Mayhew. “It’s meaningful recognition of the sacrifices of the last three years as well as the innovations and is a step in the right direction to help hospitals create healthier communities and advance health care for all.”
Moreover, the omnibus acknowledges the successes of telehealth during the pandemic and extends the public health emergency telehealth waivers for two years.
Prior to the pandemic, just 1 percent of Medicare beneficiaries used telehealth services. However, during the first year of the pandemic, over 28 million Medicare beneficiaries utilized the service, including almost half of Medicare Advantage enrollees and 38 percent of beneficiaries in traditional Medicare, per Mayhew.
“With this legislation, Medicare enrollees will be able to continue to access needed physical and behavioral health care services from anywhere and even without an Internet connection,” said Mayhew.
The bill also extends the Acute Hospital Care at Home waiver for two years, which has been heavily implemented in Florida. Last month, Orlando Health, one of the state’s largest hospital systems, partnered with Biofourmis, a technology-enabled care delivery provider, to launch a hospital-at-home program for patients residing in Central Florida.
Orlando Health’s hospital-at-home program is expected to launch in early 2023 with an expectation of continuous growth.