Baton Rouge – The Department of Health announced today a grant award from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of $71.6 million to go toward alleviating the rising operating costs of hospitals as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

The grant is part of $160 million being awarded to the three states affected by the hurricane. 

This grant opportunity allows LDH to make payments to assist hospitals and skilled nursing facilities experiencing increased operating costs.  Since Katrina, hospitals have had difficulty hiring and retaining staff due to changes in wage rates among employers competing for health care workers.  This grant will help offset those increased costs until the change in wage rates can be reflected in Medicare payment methodologies in 2009.

Approximately 50 hospitals and 180 skilled nursing facilities in hurricane-impacted parishes are expected to receive a portion of this grant money.  Payment distribution for the nursing facilities will reflect each provider’s share of total Medicare payments.  Hospital distribution will be based on survey results of labor cost increases as well as their share of Medicare payments.