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Cuts to Critical Access Hospitals included in President’s budget

The President’s budget released today includes cuts to Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs). According to the budget, “Medicare makes a number of special payments to account for the unique challenges of delivering medical care to beneficiaries in rural areas. These payments continue to be important; however, in specific cases, the adjustments may be greater than necessary to ensure continued access to care.” The Administration proposes to reduce payments from 101 percent to 100 percent of reasonable costs, effective in 2013, and to eliminate the CAH designation for those that are fewer than 10 miles from the nearest hospital, effective in 2014. This will save $2 billion over 10 years, according to the report. The National Rural Health Association strongly disagrees with this reduction. Reducing or eliminating the CAH designation will be devastating to rural hospitals and facilities, as well as the rural economy. Currently, many CAHs are operating at a net financial loss. Even a 1 percent cut in Medicare reimbursement rates will put more CAHs into the red, inevitably causing hospital doors to close and eliminating access to health care for rural Americans. Please continue to monitor this blog  for updates and developments throughout the day.

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