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Language to reduce hospital reimbursements cut from bill in Senate

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Language to reduce hospital reimbursements cut from bill in Senate

Medical professionals rallied at the Statehouse Monday and got what they wanted—language removed from a bill that would have put off-site hospital locations in jeopardy.

House Bill 1004, authored by Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, included language that would have cut reimbursement to hospitals for services and procedures that are provided in hospital outpatient departments and at off-site locations.

Brian Tabor, president of the Indiana Hospital Association, said at a press conference that it would have allowed the legislature to override contracts between insurance companies and hospitals and would have forced hospitals to take lower rates for hospital-level services at off-site locations.

An amendment to HB 1004 passed in the Senate Monday by a voice vote strips the language from the bill and requires hospitals to report where medical procedures are performed whether they are in hospitals or at off-site locations.

Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, said the bill’s original language would have put those receiving care from off-site location, like a friend of hers, in danger of no longer receiving the care they need.

Her friend, she said, was diagnosed with bone cancer and receives cancer treatment from an off-site location. She said off-site locations provide amazing care, like programs through Riley at the hospital in Evansville her friend goes to.

“I think this brings us back to common sense, so that everybody knows exactly, at least now we’ve heard from the other side, so that we know how it effects our constituents,” she said on the floor of the Senate. 

Denise Dillard, chief of advocacy for Method Hospitals in Gary, said at a press conference before the Senate went into session that the original language would have put outpatient and off-site locations in danger of closing.

“It isn’t just about the bricks and mortar, it is truly about the patients we serve and access,” she said, “making sure that they have a safe, high quality place to go, that is close to their home, not convenient to our structure.” 

Tabor said off-site locations sometimes were built to house technology and equipment older hospitals didn’t have room for.

“In other cases, it was a deliberate strategy to go into an underserved area and create a hospital-based campus because it needed an economic model to be able to provide that care in these underserved areas,” he said.

Author of the amendment, Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, said issues regarding health care are too important to be solved in one session. 

“This is the first step in a very long process,” he said. “You have to take the long-term look at this as we move forward.”

Victoria Ratliff is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalists.

TheStatehouseFile.com is a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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