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Manchin, Capito, Miller, Caraveo introduce the Preserving Emergency Access in Key Sites Act

Bipartisan, bicameral legislation would expand ambulance services in rural, mountainous areas

WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Representatives Carol Miller (R-WV-1) and Yadira Caraveo (D-CO-8), introduced the Preserving Emergency Access in Key Sites Act (PEAKS Act). The legislation would allow Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) in rural, mountainous areas to be able to operate ambulatory services under a special enhanced Medicare payment model. The bill would also help to preserve the CAH model in mountainous areas by providing more flexible requirements for these unique hospitals.

“The Appalachian region, which West Virginia lies completely within, has one of the highest shares of people living in ambulance deserts than any other region in the country,” said Senator Manchin. “I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan, bicameral PEAKS Act to ensure every West Virginian and American living in mountainous areas are able to reliably depend on ambulance services during an emergency. Our legislation would also allow rural hospitals to receive the reimbursements they deserve for providing life-saving services to their communities and protect them from losing their unique status. I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this important, commonsense bill and I will do everything I can to get it across the finish line and signed into law.”

“As residents of the Mountain State, we are proud of our beautiful peaks. At the same time, we are also aware of the challenges our mountainous topography can cause for transportation, including ambulances,” said Senator Capito. “The PEAKS Act addresses this challenge and will ensure even our most rural residents can depend on ambulance services and our critical access hospitals are able to provide the care these residents need and deserve.”

“Everyone, regardless of where they live, should have access to quality and affordable health care. My home state of West Virginia has more Critical Access Hospitals in mountainous areas than any other state in the country, and I know how hard it can be for those who live in rural, mountainous regions to receive treatment in a timely manner. The Preserving Emergency Access in Key Sites Act (PEAKS Act) is life-saving legislation that will ensure Critical Access Hospitals in mountainous areas are compensated fairly for the ambulatory services they provide to patients and positively impact rural communities across the nation. It’s imperative that all patients, especially those that live in unforgiving terrain, can access emergency medical care,” said Representative Miller.

“Every Coloradan deserves access to emergency medical services regardless of where they live, and hospitals deserve proper compensation for their risky and often life-saving care,” said Representative Caraveo. “It’s high time for us to pass the PEAKS Act, which would ensure that the cost of ambulance services is covered all across Colorado.”

CAHs are a unique designation intended for the most rural type of hospital. Currently, CAHs in mountainous areas are not being reimbursed for providing ambulatory services under the enhanced Medicare payment model. This legislation would correct that error and reimburse CAHs for ambulatory services when there is no other ambulatory base within 15 miles of the facility. This would help to ensure these CAHs are not operating at a financial loss or struggling to support the flow or transportation of patients in their hospitals, and more areas of rural West Virginia and America would have access to ambulances.

The bill also protects CAHs currently located in mountainous areas to ensure they will not lose their designation even if a new facility is constructed within 15 miles. Construction in geographically mountainous areas is difficult and sometimes results in the need for flexibility in mileage requirements to preserve access to care in these rural areas.

The full text of the legislation is available here.

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