A bill that would preserve the status for small and rural hospitals in New York is once again being pushed by Rep. Antonio Delgado and Rep. Elise Stefanik as the COVID-19 pandemic contains to strain the health care network across the country. 

The measure addresses rural hospitals that are at risk of losing their Critical Access Hospital status because of an administrative change in policy by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 

"This bill will provide a long-lasting solution," said Stefanik, a Republican who represents the vast North Country congressional district. "North Country hospitals and healthcare centers, workers, and first responders continue to heroically battle the COVID-19 pandemic in our rural communities, where access to healthcare is critical. I am honored to stand with them.”

The status enables these hospitals to receive higher rates of reimbursement. In Delgado's district, three hospitals are at risk of losing support if their status changes. All together, there are 18 hospitals in New York that could lose their certification. 

Access to hospitals in rural areas was a challenge prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the crisis has filled hospitals large and small, straining especailly smaller facilities in the process. 

“New York's 19th congressional district is at risk of losing three hospitals,” said Delgado, a Democrat who represents the Hudson Valley. “The shuttering of one hospital, let alone three, in a rural area where residents travel long distances for health care and hospitals experience difficulty in retaining and attracting medical professionals, is unconscionable. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored what folks upstate already knew -- we need more access to health care facilities, not less."