What the Bay State Is Getting Out of ObamaCare

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services adjusts hospital payments for treating Medicare patients based on differences in regional costs. Historically, each state was allocated a fixed pot of money that was divided up among its hospitals to adjust for differences in rural and urban hospitals’ labor costs. Until now. As Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel explains:

Enter [Senator John] Kerry, who slipped in an opaque provision into the Obama health law to require that Medicare wage reimbursements now come from a national pool of money, rather than state allocations. The Kerry kickback didn’t get much notice, since it was cloaked in technicality and never specifically mentioned Massachusetts.

One peculiar provision in Medicare regulations requires urban hospitals within a state to receive wage rate adjustments that are at least as generous as a state’s rural hospitals. Ordinarily this would make little difference since rural hospitals tend to have lower labor costs than urban hospitals — except in Massachusetts.

You see, “rural” hospitals in Massachusetts are a class all their own. The Bay States has only one, a tiny facility on the tony playground of the superrich — Nantucket. Nantucket College Hospital’s relatively high wages set the floor for what all 81 of the state’s urban hospitals must also be paid. And since these dramatically inflated Massachusetts wages are now getting sucked out of a national pool, there’s little left for the rest of America.

The result: Massachusetts― urban hospitals get far more money — about $257 million more — forcing cuts in Medicare payments to hospitals in 40 other states.

Comments (14)

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  1. Ken says:

    Obama Care never ceases to amaze.

  2. Studebaker says:

    You have to wonder what the Committee staff was thinking. John Kerry insists inserting obscure language into a bill and nobody asks why. Surely they knew he wouldn’t bother unless there was something in it for his state.

    • Kraimer says:

      Who exactly was the committee staff? I think their might be allegiance to John Kerry there if we knew exactly who was on.

      Down with Political Corruption.

  3. Dewaine says:

    You have got to be kidding me. Once again we all get screwed. I’m sure Massachusetts will be held up as a shining example of what’s going right in health care while the rest of us fend for the scraps. Absolutely ridiculous.

    • Jeff says:

      This type of favoritism is what has caused us to have a 80,000 page regulatory code/tax code. This type of corruption must stop.

      • Calvin says:

        but isn’t that his job as a senator? To secure a better environment for his state?…how is that corrupt?

        • Jeff says:

          Yes, to a certain extent, but the fact that he would try and benefit his state by secretly putting add on within the ACA is extremely corrupt. It’s not that he is not doing his job, it is that he is doing it in a extremely questionable manner.

        • Dewaine says:

          In the long-run this will hurt everybody, including Massachusetts. This kind of corruption does not secure a better environment for his state.

        • Studebaker says:

          You ask an important question. How is it corrupt to attempt to gain favorable conditions for your state? After all, isn’t that the job of a Member of Congress?

          I believe there are limits to what Senators can do ethically. Sometimes they need to represent the interests of their states. Sometimes, they need to act like statesmen and represent the interests of their country. Support it or oppose it, the health care law was a landmark piece of legislation. If Kerry thought it important for the country, (I would think) he should want to honor it by doing nothing to imped its progress. Also, inserting language that increases Massachusetts’ funding is one thing. Changing the formula so that Massachusetts sucks more funding away from other states is a horse of a different color! Doing so clandestinely seems underhanded to me.

  4. Tom says:

    Come on, Massachusetts! I’m sure other states don’t want to pay for your higher wages.

    • Miguel says:

      Let’s be real though, if you were able to permanently secure higher wages for your state’s medical workers without cost your state at all…wouldn’t you do it?

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