higher wage index area
(13) (A) In order to recognize commuting patterns among geographic areas, the Secretary shall establish a process through application or otherwise for an increase of the wage index applied under paragraph (3)(E) for subsection (d) hospitals located in a qualifying county described in subparagraph (B) in the amount computed under subparagraph (D) based on out-migration of hospital employees who reside in that county to any higher wage index area. (B) The Secretary shall establish criteria for a qualifying county under this subparagraph based on the out-migration referred to in subparagraph (A) and differences in the area wage indices. Under such criteria the Secretary shall, utilizing such data as the Secretary determines to be appropriate, establish— (i) a threshold percentage, established by the Secretary, of the weighted average of the area wage index or indices for the higher wage index areas involved; (ii) a threshold (of not less than 10 percent) for minimum out-migration to a higher wage index area or areas; and (iii) a requirement that the average hourly wage of the hospitals in the qualifying county equals or exceeds the average hourly wage of all the hospitals in the area in which the qualifying county is located. (C) For purposes of this paragraph, the term “higher wage index area” means, with respect to a county, an area with a wage index that exceeds that of the county. (D) The increase in the wage index under subparagraph (A) for a qualifying county shall be equal to the percentage of the hospital employees residing in the qualifying county who are employed in any higher wage index area multiplied by the sum of the products, for each higher wage index area of— (i) the difference between— (I) the wage index for such higher wage index area, and (II) the wage index of the qualifying county; and (ii) the number of hospital employees residing in the qualifying county who are employed in such higher wage index area divided by the total number of hospital employees residing in the qualifying county who are employed in any higher wage index area. (E) The process under this paragraph may be based upon the process used by the Medicare Geographic Classification Review Board under paragraph (10). As the Secretary determines to be appropriate to carry out such process, the Secretary may require hospitals (including subsection (d) hospitals and other hospitals) and critical access hospitals, as required under section 1395cc(a)(1)(T) of this title , to submit data regarding the location of residence, or the Secretary may use data from other sources. (F) A wage index increase under this paragraph shall be effective for a period of 3 fiscal years, except that the Secretary shall establish procedures under which a subsection (d) hospital may elect to waive the application of such wage index increase. (G) A hospital in a county that has a wage index increase under this paragraph for a period and that has not waived the application of such an increase under subparagraph (F) is not eligible for reclassification under paragraph (8) or (10) during that period. (H) Any increase in a wage index under this paragraph for a county shall not be taken into account for purposes of— (i) computing the wage index for portions of the wage index area (not including the county) in which the county is located; or (ii) applying any budget neutrality adjustment with respect to such index under paragraph (8)(D). (I) The thresholds described in subparagraph (B), data on hospital employees used under this paragraph, and any determination of the Secretary under the process described in subparagraph (E) shall be final and shall not be subject to judicial review.