The Senate approved a budget amendment on Friday to eliminate a provision in President Obama’s health care law that shifts money from some states to places like Massachusetts because of a quirk in how Medicare reimbursements are calculated.
Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, called for the vote to address a situation in which rural hospitals are used as the wage floor for the reimbursements — a system that went askew because the Bay State’s benchmark hospital happens to be on Nantucket, the well-to-do island off the Atlantic coast.
Under the Affordable Care Act, any state’s urban hospitals have to be reimbursed under Medicare for wages paid to doctors and staff at a level that is at least as much as in rural hospitals. Because the only hospital classified as “rural” in Massachusetts is located on the wealthy island, wage reimbursement rates are inflated for the state’s 81 other hospitals and would drain resources from the other states, according to Mr. Coburn.
Senators voted in favor of the amendment, 68 to 31.
The amendment was one of many during Friday’s marathon “vote-a-rama” session that sought to tweak provisions of the health care law through the non-binding budget process.