Seventeen West Virginia Critical Access Hospitals, mostly in rural areas, could be losing $5.5 million a year in reimbursements.

Steve Whited, CEO of Minnie Hamilton Health System in Grantsville, has expressed concerns for the facility if the loss is allowed to stand.

(Read earlier HH story)

Christopher Knight, vice president of finance for West Virginia University Hospitals-East, said the change could be retroactive to 2009, making those losses even larger.

Historically, Medicare considered state provider taxes reimbursable and Knight is asking the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to keep it that way.

The funding benefit has been instrumental in keeping the hospitals solvent.

West Virginia created a provider tax in 1993 in order to support state funding for Medicaid.

Knight says the change effectively punishes hospitals for treating Medicare patients.

The American Hospital Association and the West Virginia Hospital Association also are concerned about the future of the hospitals.

The two groups say they are working with West Virginia's congressional delegation on the issue.

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