Schumer: Rural NY hospitals can keep CAH designation, will continue to receive over $35M annually

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announces reversal of rules for Critical Access...
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announces reversal of rules for Critical Access Hospital eligibility.(WBNG)
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 10:16 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SIDNEY (WBNG) -- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Wednesday the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has reversed its eligibility criteria for Critical Access Hospital status.

The Critical Access Hospital program allows rural healthcare providers to receive federal reimbursements to help ensure they are able to service patients.

To be eligible for CAH status, it was required that a hospital remain a certain distance from another hospital by a primary or secondary road. The regulations stated that a CAH hospital must be at least 35 miles from the nearest hospital by “primary road,” which included interstates and US-numbered highways, or at least 15 miles in an area with mountainous terrains or “secondary roads,” which include single lane state routes.

However, in 2015 the CMS issued a change on how they defined primary roads in New York State to include any road in the National Highway System, which would include single lane roads. This new definition of a primary road would have caused some rural hospitals, including two in Delaware County, to lose their Critical Access Hospital status -- causing the hospitals to lose millions of dollars in funding.

Now with this reversal announced, it will allow hospitals to keep their CAH status, and allow others who were previously denied to reapply and potentially receive millions in critical reimbursements.

“Delaware County families and our Upstate hospitals can breathe a sigh of relief,” said Senator Schumer. “Their healthcare is no longer at risk of being defunded, places like Margaretville Hospital and O’Connor Hospital can continue to get the millions from the Feds they depend on to provide health services.”

The reversal is expected to save Southern Tier hospitals over $5.4 million annually, with $2.4 million for Margaretville Hospital and $3 million for O’Connor Hospital, and a total of $35 million including other Upstate hospitals across New York.

The rule reversal is expected to go into effect Jan. 1 of 2023.