Tweenerville. Sounds like something right out of a Dr. Seuss book, right?! Unfortunately that's not the case. Instead, it's a term that represents Grinnell Regional Medical Center (GRMC). What does it mean? In a nutshell, GRMC is among eight hospitals in Iowa to be considered a 'tweener' hospital. These hospitals find themselves in between the designation of a Critical Access Hospital and a Rural Referral Hospital, thus designated a 'tweener'. Essentially it means our hospital is underfunded by Medicare & Medicaid by approximately 30% of their COST to provide services, which is among the lowest reimbursement rates in the country. In 2015 this totaled more than $5 million paid to GRMC less than was spent taking care of Medicare and Medicaid patients.
It's a very complicated situation, and I won't attempt to explain all the details, but know this: there are different projects that have been put in place by the federal government over the years in an attempt to help recover some of these costs. A few of these include the Demonstration Project and implementation of more Critical Access Hospitals and more recently the REACH Act. While the Critical Access Hospital has certain provisions that currently limit GRMC from qualification, GRMC is a member of the Demonstration Project. That program is set to expire the end of this year, which is why we began to take action.
When we learned more about the complexity of the inequitable reimbursement situation GRMC faces, we knew we couldn't tackle it alone so we began working to create a more regional approach to bring awareness to the situation Grinnell faces. For several years, the Grinnell Chamber has
been an affiliate member ofthe Greater Des Moines Partnership, so we felt it important to ask for their support in this matter. After all, they have a team of folks who are assigned to federal and state legislative issues and advocating on behalf of those issues so we felt it pertinent to seek their advice. We were overwhelmed by the support of their group and just last week, Todd Linden, CEO of GRMC, and I joined the Partnership's advocacy trip to Washington D.C. to talk with our legislative representation about our situation.
We are feeling cautiously optimistic after visiting with our delegation last week, and are hopeful that a bill that will include an extension of the Demonstration Project will be sent to the House next week. The Demonstration Project has already passed the Senate due in large part to Senator Grassley & Senator Ernst's support. If you are interested in getting more involved, or learning more please let me know. We need as many champions on this project as we can get, and at the end of the day the decisions being made at the federal level truly are having an impact on our community's hospital.
Grinnell Regional Medical Center is a driving force in sustaining excellent quality of life in our region and is an economic engine that makes a substantial impact toward making Grinnell a stronger place to live, learn, work and play. We are fortunate to have GRMC play such an integral role in our community, and we are committed to working with them in the fight for equitable reimbursements of all provided services.