Rep. Delgado Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Protect At-Risk Rural Hospitals

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From the office of Representative Antonio Delgado:

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado (NY-19), along with Representative Elise Stefanik (NY-21), introduced the Protecting Rural Access to Care Act. This bipartisan legislation would ensure that rural hospitals in upstate New York maintain their status as Critical Access Hospitals (CAH), a designation that entitles them to expanded grant opportunities and higher reimbursement levels from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

In 2015, CMS amended the criteria for CAH designations by changing how the agency calculates a hospital’s distance from other critical care facilities. As a result of these changes, nine of the 18 CAH facilities in New York State stand to lose their CAH certification—including three in New York’s 19th District.

“Critical Access Hospitals are vital to the health and safety of our rural communities across upstate New York, and this designation is essential to their ability to serve our communities with efficiency. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation that will ensure that Margaretville, O’Connor, and Ellenville Regional Hospitals can continue to serve our region and respond to emergencies,” said Rep. Delgado. “During a global pandemic, when access to affordable, quality health care is more important than ever—we must protect access to our rural hospital system. This legislation will ensure our Critical Access Hospitals maintain this designation and keep our remote communities healthy.”

“Congressman Delgado is a champion for access to healthcare in New York and across rural America! This bipartisan bill will protect healthcare in nine communities in New York State, including Ellenville. We are truly grateful for Congressman Delgado’s leadership,” said Steven Kelley, CEO of Ellenville Regional Hospital.

“We applaud the efforts of Congressman Delgado and Congresswoman Stefanik in recognizing the critical service that Margaretville Hospital provides to the residents of the area,” said Michael Doyle, Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer of HealthAlliance. “Critical access hospitals are an important component of the continuum of care that hospital networks provide.  By definition, Margaretville Hospital provides key access to both emergent and non-emergent healthcare services, with the added benefit of immediate telehealth connections to WMCHealth specialists in areas like teletrauma, telestroke and behavioral health thru telepsychology.  The support of our public officials by introducing this important legislation will enable Margaretville Hospital to rightly maintain this designation, and be afforded the recognition of the care and service provided by the dedicated care team.”

“Critical Access Hospital designation is crucial to the survival of small rural hospitals. Without the financial support of CAH designation, access to quality, timely hospital and emergency care would be severely compromised by likely closure of a number of facilities.  CMS is urged to promulgate rules to address this issue  with all due haste,” said Eric Stein, President & CEO, Cobleskill Regional Hospital.

The Protecting Rural Access to Care Act would:

  • Restore pre-2015 criteria for determining CAH designation.
  • Require that CMS follow typical rulemaking process for any future changes to CAH eligibility, including a public comment period.

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