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Congressman Tom O´Halleran

Representing the 1st District of Arizona

O'Halleran Leads Bipartisan Letter Opposing Cuts to Critical Access Hospitals

December 8, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congressman Tom O'Halleran (AZ-01) sent a bipartisan letter signed by 18 other lawmakers to Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady and Ranking Member Richard Neal urging them to not cut reimbursement rates for Critical Access Hospitals (CAH).

"Critical Access Hospitals provide life-saving health care to countless rural communities across Arizona and throughout the West, and if these reimbursement rates for swing beds are cut, many CAHs will be forced to close," said Rep. O'Halleran. "The millions of Americans living in our most rural communities, including seniors, veterans, and those living with debilitating, chronic diseases, cannot afford to lose access to this life-saving care. I am grateful for the broad bipartisan support this letter has received, and I stand ready to work with the Chairman and Ranking Member on a plan that protects rural hospitals and clinics.”

"As Members who represent rural communities that depend on Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) for access to needed care, we write to express our grave concerns with the proposed policy to modify payments for CAH swing beds included as an offset in the draft Medicare extenders package announced by the House Ways and Means Committee," the lawmakers wrote in the letter. "If adopted, any cuts from current reimbursement levels would devastate hospitals that serve our communities and not only impact families’ ability to receive needed services but also thousands of jobs across rural America."

Recently, the House Ways and Means Committee announced a bipartisan agreement to extend certain Medicare programs for beneficiaries and providers that recently expired or will expire at the end of the year. Included in the otherwise encouraging agreement is a provision that will cut reimbursement rates for CAH swing beds, something that would disproportionately hurt rural hospitals and communities. Swing beds allow patients in a CAH who meet strict Medicare criteria to receive post-acute care services, including rehabilitation, before transitioning home. These facilities are currently not receiving 100% of reimbursement for swing bed services due to sequestration. Any further cuts would push more hospitals closer towards closure at a time when our communities need more – not less – access to care. Medical deserts exacerbate unique health care challenges in vulnerable communities, forcing patients to travel further for needed treatment and services.

The 19 lawmakers closed their letter stating, "As with any policy change that impacts the care of millions of Americans, proposals to modify swing-bed payments must be thoughtfully considered and reviewed with the input of rural stakeholders through additional analysis and public hearings. While we applaud the Committee for working together on a bipartisan basis to move forward important Medicare extenders, we do not believe costs should be disproportionately shouldered by patients and providers in rural communities. As such, we respectfully urge you to abandon proposed cuts to Critical Access Hospitals as you move forward with this important package."

The letter is supported by the Critical Access Hospital Coalition, the National Rural Health Association, and the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association.

The signers include: Reps. Evan H. Jenkins, Dave Loebsack, Sanford D. Bishop, Jr., David B. McKinley, P.E., Tom Cole, Kurt Schrader, Robert Latta, Danny K. Davis, Tim Walz, Daniel T. Kildee, Hal Rogers, Mac Thornberry, Jared Huffman, Peter A. DeFazio, Jacky Rosen, Rick Nolan, Rodney Davis, and Roger W. Marshall, M.D.

Read the full letter here.