ALBANY, NY (Erie News Now)-- United States Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer recently announced nearly $1 billion for increased Medicare reimbursement payments to hospitals in upstate New York. 

This increase in funding is a finalized rule about the Medicare wage index rate which will essentially increase payments for hospitals from the federal government. 

The Medicare wage index rate determines how many federal dollars are used to pay hospitals for labor costs when they treat Medicare patients. 

Some New York State lawmakers said hospitals in upstate counties have been underpaid for decades but this increase in federal dollars could have a significant impact.

“I think what it’s going to do is start to address some of the long-underfunded challenges that these health systems have been struggling with,” said Assembly Member John McDonald (D-Assembly District 108). 

Each region in upstate New York is set to receive millions of federal dollars for their hospitals Medicare services. Rochester through the Finger Lakes region will receive an estimated increase in the Medicare wage index totaling more than $242 million.

Assembly Member McDonald said this increase in federal dollars could also potentially stop or slow down service cuts. He said services cuts such as closing emergency rooms has a significant impact on communities. 

“It’s not going to be perfect by any stretch of imagination but at the end of the day, keeping emergency rooms open is critical,” McDonald said.