New legislation prevents rural hospitals from losing Critical Access Hospital designation


A hospital bed (Nexstar, file)

NEW YORK (WWTI) — Congresswoman Stefanik and Congressman Delgado introduced the Protecting Rural Access to Care Act legislation to ensure financially vulnerable rural hospitals are not at risk of losing their Critical Access Hospital designation over an administrative policy change.

The Critical Access Hospital designation provides hospitals enhanced reimbursement rates to keep essential healthcare services in rural communities. In 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services made a policy change that narrows the eligibility criteria for hospitals to certify or recertify as Critical Access Hospitals.

“Critical Access Hospitals are the foundation for rural health care and serve critical roles in their communities,” the CEO of Carthage Area Hospital Richard A. Duvall said. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused even more strain for rural hospitals. The new legislation aims to ease that burden.

“The Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020 has demonstrated the important role of the Critical Access Hospital is supporting community health education, access to primary care and COVID-19 Clinics, and access to emergency services and acute beds,”  Gerald R. Cayer, MPH, CEO of Lewis County General Hospital said.

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