Critical access hospitals at risk


(AMERY, WI) Dan Lien, Chairman of the Board at Amery Regional Medical Center, Kristen Dexter, representative of Senator Tammy Baldwin, Michael Karuschak, Jr., CEO of Amery Regional Medical Center, and the ARMC Leadership Team met on April 15, 2014 to discuss the importance of critical access hospitals (CAHs) throughout Wisconsin.

The state has 58 CAHs located in 43 out of 72 counties providing essential health care to rural communities. Due to recent Congressional proposals, critical access hospitals are vulnerable due to cuts being considered throughout Medicare.

Amery Regional Medical Center, along with other CAHs, is urging Congress to protect the critical access hospital designation within 10 miles and to revise the “96 hour rule.” The rule forces CAHs to discharge or transfer a patient to another hospital within 96 hours after admission without considering the patient’s health or lose payment.

Another topic of discussion was the “Two to Midnight Rule” where physicians must certify at admission that a Medicare patient will need treatment for a period spanning two midnights.  With this rule, Medicare Part A will not reimburse hospitals for inpatient-level services provided to Medicare patients that do not span two midnights. Any inpatient treatment provided to a Medicare patient that does not span two midnights is considered an outpatient service and then payable under Part B causing hospitals to be severely underpaid.

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