Rural health leaders to Congress: Change these 'arbitrary' rules

CAHs don't 'have the manpower and resources' to abide by regulations, CEO says

Rural health leaders at a congressional hearing earlier this week criticized several policies they said pose a threat to critical-access hospitals (CAHs).

More critical-access hospitals close their doors

Rural health industry stakeholders urged lawmakers to end the 96-hour rule, which mandates that physicians at CAHs confirm that Medicare beneficiaries can expect to be discharged or transferred to a different hospital within 96 hours of admission.

The regulation "impedes rural providers their ability to focus on their patients," said Brown County Hospital CEO Shannon Sorensen in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee Health Subcommittee on Tuesday. She added that some CAHs might be forced to reduce services if the rule were enforced.

Critical-access hospitals: Challenges and opportunities

Sorensen also called on Congress to ensure that CAHs continue to be exempt from a policy that requires physicians or non-physician practitioners to directly supervise certain routine outpatient procedures, such as applying a splint to a finger or conducting exercises for pulmonary rehabilitation.

"CAHs simply do not have the manpower and resources to abide by these arbitrary regulations," Sorensen said.

"Burdensome federal regulations make it difficult to budget, plan and adequately prepare for the future," added Holton Community Hospital CEO Carrie Saia.

Both CEOs called on Congress to pass legislation easing regulations on rural hospitals (Muchmore, Modern Healthcare, 7/28; AHA News, 7/28; Bird, FierceHealthcare, 7/30).

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