January 28, 2021 by Staff

WASHINGTON — Rep. Elise Stefanik introduced the Protecting Rural Access to Care Act with Rep. Antonio Delgado.

This bipartisan legislation will protect the Critical Access Hospital designation, 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.

“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, R-Schuylerville, stated.

“The guidance that was released by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) in 2015 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,” Stefanik noted.

“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,” Stefanik added.

“New York’s 19th congressional district is at risk of losing three hospitals,” Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, stated.

“The shuttering of one hospital, let alone three, in a rural area where residents travel long distances for health care and hospitals experience difficulty in retaining and attracting medical professionals, is unconscionable. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored what folks upstate already knew — we need more access to health care facilities, not less. My legislation would ensure our hospitals can retain their Critical Access Hospital status and remain open,” Delgado explained.

“Margaretville, O’Connor, and Ellenville Hospitals have heroically served our community during the COVID-19 pandemic and are a lifeline to thousands of residents. Congress must immediately pass the Protecting Rural Access to Care Act to protect the public health of rural Americans in NY-19 and across the United States,” Delgado added.

The Protecting Rural Access to Care Act will aim to:

• 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.

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