WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today cosponsored bipartisan legislation to revise new reimbursement guidelines for critical access hospitals in rural communities. Critical access hospitals, including the 65 in Nebraska, are subject to separate reimbursement guidelines for the treatment of Medicare patients. The new rules could potentially limit the inpatient care of individuals at these facilities.
“We all know circumstances for each patient are unique, whether it is a long recovery from surgery or an illness that takes time and close monitoring to overcome,” Johanns said. “Our rural hospitals should not be punished for providing needed care for folks in their communities, just because it takes longer than four days. This legislation ensures that Nebraskans receive the care their doctors think is best without being micromanaged by Washington.”
The legislation was introduced by Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and John Tester (D-Mont.). The Center for Medicare Services (CMS) requires rural hospitals to maintain a 96 hour annual per patient average to participate in the critical access hospital program, but the recent guidelines state that physicians certify at the time of admission that each patient will stay for no more than 96 hours.
The legislation would remove the pre-certification requirement.
Rural hospitals have expressed concerns about complying with this new requirement that will likely force patients to forgo certain procedures or travel longer distances to larger facilities farther away from their homes.