January 25th, 2021 By Staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. | U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik has helped introduce the Protecting Rural Access to Care Act aimed to protect the Critical Access Hospital designation.

That designation is an important certification that provides rural hospitals in New York’s 21st Congressional District enhanced reimbursement rates to keep essential healthcare services in rural communities.

Stefanik introduced the bipartisan legislation with U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-NY-19) Jan. 25.

“I will always fight for North Country hospitals who face significant challenges and have risen to the occasion as we have worked as a community to beat COVID-19. I am proud to introduce the Protecting Rural Access to Care Act, a necessary and permanent solution to protect North Country hospitals and healthcare centers,” Stefanik said in a statement following the bill’s introduction.

Stefanik said 2015 guidance by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services “put rural hospitals and healthcare centers at a dangerous risk of losing their Critical Access Hospital certification and the much-needed benefits that come with it. I was proud to work directly with district hospitals and the previous administration to place a temporary pause on re-certifications during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“This bill will provide a long-lasting solution. North Country hospitals and healthcare centers, workers, and first responders continue to heroically battle the COVID-19 pandemic in our rural communities, where access to healthcare is critical. I am honored to stand with them.”

According to Stefanik’s office, the Protecting Rural Access to Care Act will now:

-Restore the pre-2015 distance standard permanently for Critical Access Hospitals certified prior to 2015, ensuring the rules don’t change as they seek recertification.

-Require CMS to engage in a public notice and comment period for any future guidance or regulation changes made to the designation criteria for Critical Access Hospitals.

-Ensure that unless any formal update to distance criteria is finalized, hospitals seeking Critical Access Hospital certification or recertification will be subject to the pre-2015 standard.

You can read this article in full here: https://suncommunitynews.com