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OIG Recommendation 'Would Kill Rural Health'

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, August 16, 2013

Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association, is blasting a federal report that recommends stripping critical access designation from any hospital that was brought into the program under a state "necessary provider" designation. "The practical effect is that it would kill rural health," Morgan says.

Hundreds of small hospitals across the nation could lose their critical access status and the extra funding that goes with it if the federal government acts on a series of recommendations made public this week.

The Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General has recommended that Congress allow the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to strip critical access designation from any hospital that was brought into the program under a state "necessary provider" designation.

Brian Jordan, a program analyst for OIG's Office of Evaluation and Inspections in Chicago, said in a podcast produced by his office that nearly 1,000 of the approximately 1,300 critical-access hospitals in 45 states gained the "permanent exemption" under the necessary provider designation. Congress closed the loophole in 2006, but grandfathered in the hospitals.

Without that designation, Jordan said about 800 hospitals would not have met location requirements in 2011 because they were too close to another hospital.

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