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Smith Reintroduces Rural Health Care Bills

January 8, 2015
Press Release

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) has reintroduced two bills to help ensure access to quality health care for rural Americans.  H.R. 169, the Critical Access Hospital Relief Act would remove the 96-hour precertification requirement for patients at Critical Access Hospitals.  H.R. 170, the Rural Health Care Provider Relief Act would delay physician supervision requirements at critical access hospitals for at least a year until the impact of the rules is studied.

“Long distances between facilities and a shortage of doctors make access to health care in rural America challenging enough without the heavy hand of the federal government,” said Congressman Smith.  “These two bills would help ease the burden of arbitrary and burdensome regulations on Critical Access Hospitals, and ensure rural Americans are not placed at a further disadvantage.”

The 96-hour rule 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.

Physician supervision rules require a physician’s presence and supervision over nearly all routine procedures administered in hospitals.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) previously delayed enforcement of this rule for Critical Access Hospitals, as did Congress through 2014.  However, as of January 1, 2015 these rules are once again being enforced.