Reps urge supercommittee to save critical access hospitals

A bipartisan group of U.S. House of Representatives last week lobbied the so-called deficit "supercommittee" to spare rural hospitals from potential spending cuts.

The group, comprised of 68 Representatives in all, is concerned that the critical access hospital program could fall prey to the committee's budget-cutting axe. Proposals being floated include the reduction of the number of hospitals with the critical access designation, reducing payments to critical access hospitals, or eliminating the program altogether.

"While these proposals will result in savings, we urge you to carefully consider the potentially devastating consequences of such cuts on access to care for patients and economic development in rural communities," the 68 House members wrote to the supercommittee.

They added that prior to the start of the critical access program 14 years ago, "many rural hospitals faced severe financial hardships or were in fear of closing. Since enactment, this designation and accompanying reimbursement have helped ensure and protect stable access to healthcare services for the elderly and others living in rural America."

To learn more:
- read the letter (.pdf)