Smith introduces Critical Access Hospital Relief Act
CCCH administrator agrees that 96-hour
rule is burdensome
By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
Congressman Adrian Smith introduced the Critical Access Hospital Relief Act last week which would repeal the burdensome “96-hour rule” now being enforced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The regulation requires physicians at Critical Access Hospitals at the time of admission to certify Medicare and Medicaid patients will not be there more than 96 hours. Otherwise, the hospital must transfer the patient or face non-reimbursement.
Chase County Community Hospital (CCCH) is one of 50 Critical Access Hospitals operating in Nebraska.
“Rural health facilities face enough challenges without the heavy hand of the federal government,” said Congressman Smith.
“The 96-hour rule is unnecessary and limits access to health care in rural areas such as Nebraska’s Third District.”
Gary Bieganski, interim CEO at CCCH, agrees with Smith and said the rule elimination would be beneficial. He also realizes the real bottom line with medicine today is a move to shorter hospital stays.
Bieganski said Medicare and Medicaid want doctors to certify at the time of admission how long the patient is going to stay at the hospital.
If the rule was eliminated, Bieganski said, “Our providers could then take care of patients instead of worrying about a rule that is so inappropriate.”
It’s been burdensome for hospitals, but mostly for the providers, Bieganski added.
“They (providers) want to take care of patients and we want that, too,” he said.
He noted it’s not a new rule, but one that hasn’t really been enforced over the years.
Smith’s legislation is supported by the Nebraska Hospital Association (NHA).
Laura Redoutey, NHA president, said, “The 96-hour requirement creates a significant hardship on Medicare beneficiaries in rural areas that are forced to obtain care outside of their community for no clinical reason.”
Congressman Smith is a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, which is the committee of jurisdiction for the Critical Access Hospital Relief Act.