- The critical access hospital (CAH) program was created in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.
- The Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) of 2003 increased the number of beds a CAH hospital could operate to 25 from 15.
- CAHs are paid at 101% of reasonable costs for services to Medicare patients, up from 100% before the MMA.
- The MMA also included a Jan. 1, 2006 sunset on the "necessary provider" provision, which allows hospitals to enter the critical access program no matter what their proximity to other hospitals as long as they meet length-of-stay, bed-count and emergency-care services criteria. Without the necessary-provider provision, hospitals have to be at least 35 miles away from another hospital or at least 15 miles away in mountainous terrain or in an area with only secondary roads.
- There are now about 1,100 CAHs, accounting for about half of the rural hospitals in the nation. (In December 1999, there were as few as 100.)
For more information on Mississippi's critical access hospital program, contact Mendal Kemp, director of MHA's Center for Rural Health, at (800) 289-8884, (601) 368-3384 or firstname.lastname@example.org.