Smith Introduces Critical Access Hospital Relief Act

Today, Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) introduced the Critical Access Hospital Relief Act which would repeal the burdensome 96-Hour rule now being enforced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  This regulation requires physicians at Critical Access Hospitals at the time of admission to certify Medicare and Medicaid patients will not be there more than 96 hours.  Otherwise, the hospital must transfer the patient or face non-reimbursement.

“Rural health facilities face enough challenges without the heavy hand of the federal government,” said Congressman Smith.  “The 96-hour rule is unnecessary and limits access to health care in rural areas such as Nebraska’s Third District.  This legislation would cut through the red tape and allow rural providers to focus on taking care of their patients instead of complying with burdensome and arbitrary regulations.”

Smith’s legislation is supported by the Nebraska Hospital Association.  Laura Redoutey, the association’s President stated, “The 96-hour requirement creates a significant hardship on Medicare beneficiaries in rural areas that are forced to obtain care outside of their community for no clinical reason.  Congressman Smith’s efforts to correct this flawed policy are appreciated.”

Nebraska’s Third District is home to more than 50 Critical Access Hospitals, including Community Hospital in McCook.  Jim Ulrich, Community Hospital’s President and CEO, said “This proposed legislation will preserve local access to quality and efficient health care services that the patients in our region have grown to expect and appreciate for years.”

Congressman Smith is a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, which is the committee of jurisdiction for the Critical Access Hospital Relief Act.