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Protect Access to Rural Hospitals

As you may know, the Congressional Budget Office recently released a report detailing ways in which the federal spending deficit could be reduced. One of their options, Mandatory Spending Option 24, suggests eliminating the Critical Access Hospital, Sole Community Hospital and Medicare Dependent Hospital programs. These facilities provide critical access to rural patients across the nation. To ensure this care Congress created special Medicare reimbursement rates benefiting cost-based care. The CBO option would override Congressional intent by changing the hospitals’ reimbursement to the Inpatient Prospective Payment System. These new rates would reduce Medicare payments to these hospitals forcing many to offer reduced services or close, significantly limiting many rural Americans’ access to a health care facility. Critical Access Hospitals, Sole Community Hospitals and Medicare Dependent Hospitals receive the special cost-based payments because facilities operating in rural America typically have higher costs associated with care as well as a lower volume of patients. The increased financial burden resulting from a reduced payment rate would force many hospitals in rural America to close reducing access to care for rural Americans. Please call your Members of Congress and tell them to protect rural Americans’ access to care by maintaining rural hospital Medicare payments. If you have additional questions please contact the NRHA Government Affairs staff at 202-639-0550.

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