Washington, D.C. — Congresswoman Elise Stefanik today announced that, following her advocacy, Carthage Area Hospital will keep its Critical Access Hospital Designation.

“I am proud to announce that, following my advocacy, Carthage Area Hospital will keep its Critical Access Hospital designation and is no longer at risk of losing access to funds to ensure it can continue service to our rural communities,” Stefanik said. “I’m proud to deliver this critical result to ensure Jefferson County will continue to receive quality care. I will always fight for rural hospitals in New York’s 21st District, so our families in rural communities have certainty on their access to lifesaving care and treatments.”

“Congresswoman Stefanik and Senator Schumer’s support was crucial in securing healthcare provided by Critical Access Hospitals in the North Country,” said Rich Duvall, CEO of Carthage Area Hospital.

In 2015, CMS made a policy change that narrows the eligibility criteria for hospitals to certify or recertify as Critical Access Hospitals. By inserting a more restrictive standard for what qualifies as a “secondary road,” currently designated Critical Access Hospitals may no longer meet the distance requirements to retain their certification, delivering a blow to rural hospitals as they seek to emerge from the severe fiscal challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For years, Stefanik has been fighting against this harmful policy. In January 2021, Stefanik introduced the bipartisan Protecting Rural Access to Care Act, legislation designed to protect the Critical Access Hospital designation. In June 2021, Stefanik called on CMS to reverse this harmful policy and brought this concern to the Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra in January 2022 on behalf of vulnerable rural hospitals at risk of losing their Critical Access Hospital status.

The Critical Access Hospital (CAH) designation provides hospitals enhanced reimbursement rates to keep essential healthcare services in rural communities. In New York’s 21st District, Lewis County General Hospital, Carthage Area Hospital, River Hospital, University of Vermont Health Network – Elizabethtown, Clifton-Fine Hospital, and Gouverneur Hospital maintain a CAH designation