By Krystal Spring/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Northern Montana Hospital will soon receive federal grant money to help reimburse it for costs it absorbs treating Medicare patients.
The hospital is one of 14 medical centers chosen nationwide to benefit from a program designated in the 2003 Medicare reform bill to help rural hospitals. Northern Montana Hospital will receive $2.5 million in grant money over the next five years, according to Barrett Kaiser, spokesman for U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.
"This is really good news for Havre," Kaiser said. "In the past, Medicare reimbursements haven't necessarily been fair across the board. This will help change that."
The 2003 Medicare reform bill provided a prescription drug benefit to seniors and modernized the Medicare program in general. Kaiser said Baucus was instrumental in both writing and helping to pass the bill, which included the pilot program for rural hospitals.
"The program was designed to provide quality affordable health care for people in rural areas, and help hospitals keep their doors open," Kaiser said. "In addition to providing quality health care, this also helps Northern Montana Hospital, which is a major employer in Havre, so it's really good news for everyone."
Kaiser said Northern Montana Hospital - which has 49 acute- care beds and a service area of more than 12,000 square miles - applied and qualified for the competitive grant. Miles City's Holy Rosary Healthcare, which has 44 acute-care beds, was the only other Montana hospital approved for a grant.
Hospital officials could not be reached for comment today.