Cochran & Wicker Move to Strike Critical Access Hospital Regulation

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> 32 Mississippi Hospitals Affected by Ill-Advised 96-Hour Hospitalization Rule
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> WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today announced their support for legislation to protect rural hospitals, including more than 30 in Mississippi, from a new regulation requiring physicians to certify that patients won’t be hospitalized more than 96 hours.
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> The Mississippi Senators are original cosponsors of the Critical Access Hospital Relief Act of 2015 (S.258), which would overturn a new “condition of payment” rule issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in a bid to try to contain costs. The CMS rule requires physicians at Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) to certify that a patient will remain hospitalized no longer than 96 hours, or four days, if admitted. There are 32 CAHs throughout Mississippi.
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> “Patient access to healthcare services is a large problem for Mississippi and other rural states. The federal government would compound that problem by imposing a rule that could put hospitals in the difficult position of forcing patients out the door due to concerns over reimbursement. We need to address the negative impact this regulation could have on those who live in rural communities before it is too late,” Cochran said.
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> “Critical Access Hospitals are essential to the health care system, especially for Mississippians living in rural areas who would have limited or no access to quality care. There are better ways to lower costs than with a misguided rule that would otherwise unfairly hurts patients and hospitals,” Wicker said.
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> The risk to CAHs, including physicians and patients, is that CMS reimbursements could be withheld or declined if a physician violates a certification that a patient will be released or transferred within 96 hours.
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> S.258 was introduced by Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) this week and referred to the Senate Committee on Finance. The measure is supported by the American Hospital Association, the National Rural Health Association and the American College of Surgeons.
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> Cochran and Wicker are members of the Senate Rural Health Caucus. A review of CAHs in Mississippi is available here: http://bit.ly/10hJ98e
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