At a Capitol Hill briefing on Dec. 4, David Critchlow, LifePoint Hospitals’ vice president of government relations, told congressional staff that Congress’ failure to renew several lapsed or expiring Medicare reimbursement policies would make it much harder for many rural hospitals to continue providing essential care and services for their patients and communities. Cuts in reimbursement are causing “many layoffs at hospitals across the country and more can be expected,” said Critchlow, who represented the AHA on a panel of rural health care leaders at the briefing. “More troubling is that there will be a cutback in services,” he said. “When a department is lost in a [rural] hospital, it will not come back.”
Critchlow urged support for Medicare “extenders” legislation like the “Rural Hospitals Access Act” (S. 842/H.R. 1787), which would renew the Medicare Dependent Hospital and low-volume adjustment programs. More than 200 hospitals received MDH payments and more than 600 received the low-volume adjustment before the programs expired Oct. 1.
Critchlow said these two extenders should be included in the Senate Finance Committee’s scheduled Dec. 12 mark up of a Medicare physician payment bill.