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Senators introduce bipartisan CAH Relief Act

The National Rural Health Association applauds Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) for introducing the Critical Access Hospital Relief Act this week. The bill will align critical access hospitals (CAHs) condition of payment with their conditions of participation by removing a hard-hours-cap on patient stays. CMS currently requires a physician to certify each patient is expected to be discharged or transferred under a 96 hard-hour-cap as part of a CAH’s “condition of payment.” The Critical Access Hospital Relief Act will ensure that payment policy does not override the congressionally approved conditions of participation and set a new de facto standard for care available in CAHs. Continued cuts in hospital payments have taken their toll, forcing far too many closures and leaving many of our nation’s most vulnerable populations without timely access to care. Since 2010, 47 rural hospitals have closed, more than in the previous 10 years combined. And 283 more are on the brink of closure threatening access to 700,000 rural patients. Roberts will speak about his bill during NRHA’s 26th annual Rural Health Policy Institute next week in D.C. Critical Access Hospital Relief Act cosponsor Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) will also present at the nation’s largest rural advocacy event.

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