SAFFORD — “What you currently have, what you like about the hospital, you will still have. That will not change.”
With that statement by spokesman Ryan Rapier, Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center announced last week it was seeking critical access designation.
“Becoming a critical access hospital affects the way we’re paid by Medicare/Medicaid,” Rapier said.
Critical access designation for hospitals was created in 1997 specifically to address the issue of reimbursement to rural hospitals. Instead of changing reimbursement rates for services provided under Medicare and Medicaid, the hospital will be paid cost plus an additional percentage once the designation is in place.
In addition, the hospital will also be eligible to receive federal funds for infrastructure and capital medical equipment purchases.
“MGRMC wishes to stress that this new designation will result in absolutely no change to the current hospital services provided in Graham and Greenlee counties. The Critical Access Hospital designation will allow MGRMC to expand current services as well as add new services, but no care currently provided at the hospital will be negatively impacted,” a statement from the hospital read.
Rapier said once the designation is in place and federal funds are allocated, the hospital plans to construct a new medical office building that will provide additional office and clinic space on the hospital campus.
Rapier did not have a timeline on when the hospital expects to learn whether the change in designation has been approved.