Delgado reintroduces bill to protect rural hospitals

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WASHINGTON – Congressman Antonio Delgado (D, NY-19) has reintroduced the Protecting Rural Access to Care Act to protect small and rural hospitals across the state that are at risk of losing their Critical Access Hospital (CAH) status due to an administrative policy change made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services CMS). 

Critical Access Hospital status entitles hospitals to higher reimbursement levels from the federal government, ensuring their continued operation in rural areas.

 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 stand to lose their CAH certification — including three in Delgado’s 19th Congressional District.

 “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,” he said. “My legislation would ensure our hospitals can retain their Critical Access Hospital status and remain open. 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.”