Saturday August 4, 2012

GREAT BARRINGTON -- Fairview Hospital, one of the state’s three Critical Access Hospitals, is in line for some financial benefits stemming from the health care cost control bill approved by state lawmakers this week.

Gov. Deval Patrick is ex pected to sign the measure any day now.

According to state Rep. Wil liam "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, the legislation in cludes a section he advocated that will re imburse Fair view at 101 percent of its costs for treating patients with insurance from Mass Health (Medicaid) and other state-subsidized plans such as Com monwealth Care.

The provision puts the hospital in line with federal government reimbursement rates for Medicare.

"This will give Fairview a little more flexibility and will greatly benefit Great Bar rington and surrounding communities," Pignatelli stated. "It has a direct, beneficial impact on the Berkshires."

Pignatelli termed Fairview vital to the "economic stability, competitiveness and public health of southern Berkshire County."

Eugene Dellea, president of Fairview, praised the lawmaker for his efforts on behalf of the hospital and its patients.

"Without his personal determination and relentlessness with his colleagues over the past several years, this Critical Access legislation would not have been possible," said Dellea.


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Pignatelli said he originally proposed the legislation in 2009 and this week, it was included in the comprehensive bill approved on Beacon Hill just before the adjournment of the state Legislature’s formal session late Tuesday night.

He also predicted that the overall bill, once it’s signed into law, will help contain the increasing cost of health care, benefiting the overall state economy.

Fairview also anticipates a share of $3 million in grants included in the state budget for capital improvements, including potential expansion and infrastructure upgrades.

"Even though this is a one-time deal, Fairview will be able to use these grants to leverage additional private dollars to get projects off the ground that may have been stalled due to the recession," Pignatelli said in a prepared statement,

"Once these projects are off the ground, we will see further benefits to the local economy through construction jobs and related economic activity."

The health care bill also aims to expand availability of primary care by enhancing the role of physician assistants and nurse practitioners. Berkshire County has a severe, and worsening, shortage of primary-care physicians, according to state studies.

Fairview is designated as a small, geographically remote facility serving patients in rural areas. The designation is limited to hospitals that have up to 25 beds.

The other two Critical Access facilities are on Martha’s Vineyard and in Athol.

To reach Clarence Fanto:
cfanto@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6247
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto