"We were concerned that some of these hospitals may not be providing critical access to rural patients because they were located very close to other hospitals that could provide similar services," Jordan said. More than 300 critical access hospitals were less than 15 miles from another hospital in a 2011 review.
Jordan said that Medicare could save $1.3 million for every critical access hospital that is stripped of its designation, and that "de-designating" critical access hospitals that are less than 15 miles from the nearest hospital would save Medicare $449 million a year.
"Remember, necessary provider hospitals never had to meet the distance requirement," he said. "And, until March of 2013, CMS never went back to check that other critical access hospitals still met the location requirements. With new hospitals being built and towns expanding, some of these hospitals might no longer qualify for critical access hospital status. Since we pay these hospitals more to provide this critical access to rural patients, we wanted to know if these increased payments are tax dollars well spent."
Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association, blasted the report.