Thanks to a temporary, but substantial expansion of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Low Volume Hospital (LVH) Program, around 500 rural hospitals benefit from LVH payment adjustment. When it was originally implemented in 2005 only five rural hospitals qualified. Under the program, CMS provides an additional payment to qualifying hospitals for the higher costs associated with a low number of discharges. The expanded LVH program is scheduled to expire after federal fiscal year 2017, at which point the LVH classification and payment methodology will revert to the 2005 standards unless further legislative action occurs.
In the brief, The Impact of the Low Volume Hospital (LVH) Program on the Viability of Small, Rural Hospitals, the NC Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Program compares rural LVH to non-LVH characteristics and estimates the financial impact of eliminating the LVH program and reverting to the original (2005) LVH classification and payment adjustment. This research is directly relevant to policymakers, federal and state agencies, and regulators interested in whether reverting to the original LVH classification—or eliminating the classification altogether—might impair access to care for Medicare beneficiaries residing in their service areas.