Clay County Medical Center - On Wednesday, (July 2nd) I traveled to Clay Center to visit and tour the Clay County Medical Center (CCMC). CCMC is a Critical Access Hospital (CAH) that provides a broad range of health care services to patients in Clay County and the surrounding area. CCMC also sponsors a Medicare-licensed hospice program called Meadowlark Hospice.
My discussion with CCMC administrators and staff covered various topics including unnecessarily burdensome and flawed Medicare audit regulations. Many Kansas hospitals have been forced to divert significant resources away from caring for patients to appeal incorrect audit decisions that are ultimately overturned through the appeal process. This broken Medicare audit program places an unreasonable burden on providers, and has created a two-year appeals backlog within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). I continue working to require HHS to address this problem. In April, I met with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner to discuss these concerns. CMS is the division of HHS responsible for administering Medicare and Medicaid. Also, I included language in the Senate Fiscal Year 2015 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill requiring HHS to account for improving the Medicare audit appeals process and addressing the current backlog.
When federal policies fail to take into account the realities of providing care in rural communities, we risk losing access to important health care services provided by Kansas hospitals and other health care providers. I will continue to advocate for regulatory flexibility for rural hospitals and other health providers to deliver the care that is essential to Kansas communities. Thanks to CCMC Director of Planning and Development Marcia Newell for hosting my visit.
Clay Independence Day Celebration
It was a Norman Rockwell kind of evening in Clay Center on Wednesday. Since 2002, I’ve been joining neighbors, friends and community leaders to celebrate Independence Day on North 5th Street. I appreciate the invitation from Judge Ruth Brown for this year’s gathering.