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Critical Access Hospital closures would affect Wisconsin, Tennessee

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the Department of Health and Human Services released a report that, if fully implemented, could close hundreds of rural hospitals across the nation, reducing access to health care for millions of rural patients while costing taxpayers more money. The 34-page report on Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) asks Congress to allow CMS to strip CAH status from any facility that came into the program under state "necessary provider" designations. For some states this could mean that as many as 70% of CAHs could lose the status. Wisconsin and Tennessee are among the states that would face CAH closures if the OIG report is fully implemented. Tim Size, executive director of the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative and former NRHA president, joined a panel of experts on Wisconsin Eye to discuss the latest OIG Recommendations and how the changes to CAHs would force hospital closures in the state. Watch the Newsmakers: Medicare Cuts Threaten Rural Hospitals. In the Daily News Journal, Susan Veale of the Rural Health Association of Tennessee and NRHA highlights how the closures of CAHs would have a devastating effect on the underserved rural communities in Tennessee.  Of the 16 CAHs in Tennessee, 15 of these hospitals would be adversely affected if they lost their CAH status. Read the op-ed here. CAHs are the safety net providers for rural America. They are the cornerstone for health care services in rural and remote communities, and without them, many rural Americans would not have access to primary, emergency and acute health care services. Additionally, the rural hospitals are extremely important to the economy of rural America.

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