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Sen. Santorum Introduces Puerto Rico Medicare Reimbursement Equity Act Of 2005
20 April 2005
US Fed News
WASHINGTON, April 20 -- The office of Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., issued the following press release:
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, today introduced in the Senate the Puerto Rico Medicare Reimbursement Equity Act of 2005, which is designed to help ensure that Medicare beneficiaries in Puerto Rico have access to quality health care and to assist the struggling healthcare providers on the Island by increasing Puerto Rico's Medicare reimbursements. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is an original co-sponsor of the legislation.
Senator Santorum's colleague, U.S. Representative Luis Fortuño (R-PR), introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives. Currently, Puerto Rico is the only jurisdiction in the United States - including the other U.S. territories - that does not receive equal treatment in the Medicare Prospective Payment System (PPS) reimbursement formula despite the fact that Puerto Ricans pay the same Medicare payroll taxes and deductibles as their fellow citizens in the 50 states. Puerto Rico hospitals are also required to comply with the same Medicare standards of participation as hospitals on the mainland. The bill would correct this inequality in the current Medicare reimbursement system.
"I am grateful for Senator Santorum's continued leadership and support, not just on the Puerto Rico Medicare issue, but on all issues affecting the 4 million U.S. citizens residing on the Island," said Representative Fortuño. "Given Puerto Rico's lack of representation in the U.S. Senate, we count on friends like Senator Santorum and Senator Landrieu to champion issues on behalf of the people of Puerto Rico."
In 1983, the Prospective Payment System (PPS) was established for making payments to hospitals for inpatient services provided to Medicare beneficiaries. Hospitals included in this system are paid a predetermined fixed rate, which varies depending on approximately 470 Diagnosis Related Groups (DRG). Payment rates are also adjusted to account for differences in local hospital conditions through an area wage adjustment and different payment rates for urban and rural hospitals.
"Every American deserves health and child care of the highest quality at an affordable cost, regardless of which state or territory they live in," Senator Landrieu said. "This legislation begins to move us in the right direction by ensuring that Medicare recipients in Puerto Rico have the same access to care that other Americans do, and that the hospitals will there to provide these vital services to them. But this is just one step. There is still a great deal that must be done to elevate the quality, accessibility and affordability of care in our nation, and I will continue working toward this goal."
"Of the fifty-two hospitals certified by Medicare in Puerto Rico, several are facing bankruptcy and others have been forced to stop admitting Medicare beneficiaries," said Senator Santorum. "I hope that my colleagues will join me in supporting this legislation, which would help to alleviate the unfair and disproportionate financial burden that Puerto Rican hospitals shoulder as part of the reimbursement program. It is crucial that Puerto Ricans have access to quality and affordable health care."
Christine Shott, 202/224-0610; Adam Sharp, 202/224-0098; Nicole Guillemard, 202/225-5046.