Still time to sign on to bipartisan letter protecting rural hospitals

Thirty-five Members of Congress are asking the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to protect rural hospitals from devastating cuts in a bipartisan letter from Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO). Several proposals currently under review by the Super Committee target the Critical Access Hospital (CAH) designation and its reimbursement. Those proposals include reducing payments to CAHs, eliminating the CAH designation for some hospitals or outright repeal of the CAH designation altogether. The CAH designation was created under the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 to help ensure and protect stable access to health care services for the elderly and other rural Americans. Cutting payments to these hospitals— typically the largest or second largest employer in rural communities—harms access to health care and the local economies. NRHA is encouraging you to contact your representatives and ask them to please join the 35 (and counting) Members of Congress in protecting rural hospitals and the rural economy by signing on to this bipartisan letter. To sign on to the letter contact Travis Robey in Rep. Kind’s office at [email protected] or 202-225-5506 or Emily Herzog in Rep. Emerson’s office at [email protected] or 202-225-4404 by Thursday, November 3 at noon. From The Dear Colleague Letter: Dear Colleagues, We invite you to join us in expressing our concern to members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (“Joint Select Committee”) on proposals cutting Medicare payments to small, rural hospitals. Because rural hospitals face a unique set of challenges – remote geographic location, small size, workforce scarcity, physician shortages, constrained financial resources among others – Congress enacted a special designation called the “Critical Access Hospital” under the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Prior to enactment, many rural hospitals were financially strapped or were on the verge of closing. Since enactment, this designation and accompanying reimbursement have helped ensure and protect stable access to health care services for the elderly and others living in rural America. Critical access hospitals (CAHs) across the country often serve as both the health care mainstay in rural communities as well as its economic engine. Unfortunately, there are several proposals currently under review by the Joint Select Committee that target this special CAH designation and its reimbursement. Those proposals include reducing payments to CAHs, eliminating the CAH designation for some hospitals or outright repeal of the CAH designation altogether. Cutting payments to these hospitals—some of the largest employers in many rural communities—does great harm in terms of access to health care and jobs in our local economies.  We invite you to join us in asking the Joint Select Committee to carefully consider recommendations cutting critical access hospitals. To sign onto this bipartisan letter, contact Travis Robey in Rep. Kind’s office at [email protected] (5-5506) or Emily Herzog in Rep. Emerson’s office at [email protected] (5-4404). Sincerely, Ron Kind                                                          Jo Ann Emerson Member of Congress                           Member of Congress