02:39 PM EST, February 3, 2021 By Mariann Cabness

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWTI) – TheLewis County Legislature passed a resolutionin support of the Protecting Rural Access to Care Act on Tuesday.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik introduced the bill last week to ensure financially vulnerable rural hospitals are not at risk of losing their Critical Access Hospital designation over an administrative policy change.

The Critical Access Hospital designation provides hospitals enhanced reimbursement rates to keep essential healthcare services in rural communities.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented all of our North Country hospitals with challenges, but the challenges our rural hospitals face are unique. I am pleased members of the Lewis County Legislature recognize the need for this important legislation and passed a resolution in support of it,” Congresswoman Stefanik said.

According to a release from Congresswoman Stefanik’s office, the Protecting Rural Access to Care Act will restore the pre-2015 standard permanently for Critical Access Hospitals certified prior to 2015, ensuring the rules don’t change as they seek recertification.

The Act will also require the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services to engage in a public notice and comment period for any future guidance or regulation changes made to the designation criteria for Critical Access Hospitals and ensure that unless any formal update to distance criteria is finalized, hospitals seeking Critical Access Hospital certification or recertification will be subject to the pre-2015 standard.

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