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Rules could change for 'critical access hospitals;' what reporters should know

Jenny Gold
Jenny Gold

Critical access hospitals are supposed to be small, rural facilities that receive a higher Medicare reimbursement rate to help keep them afloat. But not all of them fit that description, and they’re not always “critical.” More than 1,300 facilities – nearly one in four acute care hospitals – have been designated as critical access, and some are neither rural nor isolated.

Recently, several proposals floating around Washington, including one from President Obama, recommend narrowing the definition to help weed out some of the spending from the program.

Jenny Gold, of Kaiser Health News, has written about critical access hospitals and offers background, questions reporters should be asking and resources to support their reporting.

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