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Support Critical Access Hospitals

Use these templates to write in support of critical access hospitals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Critical Access Hospitals

  • Designation created by Congress in 1997 to curb the tide of rural hospital closures.
  • Prerequisites for designation:
    • 35 miles away from nearest hospital
    • Designed a necessary provider
    • Fewer than 25 beds used for acute care or “swing-bed” patients
    • Offers 24/7 emergency care
    • Not exceed an average inpatient stay of 96 hours
    • Complete a CMS certification process at least every three years
  • Valley West Hospital received Critical Access designation in 2002.

Critical access hospitals are important to managing population health

  • More than 60 million rural Americans over 90% of the country rely on critical access hospitals.
  • Rural populations are on average older, sicker, and less affluent than individuals in urban areas.
  • Department of Health and Human Services reports that rural areas have higher rates of poverty, chronic disease and limited access to primary care.
  • 20% of the population lives in rural America, but only 9% of physicians practice in these areas.
  • Critical access hospitals provide local access to healthcare services for approximately 1.25 million Illinois residents.
  • Serve predominantly medically underserved areas, and are designated as such because of the lack of access to primary care and mental health professionals.
  • Critical access hospitals improve recruitment and retention of physicians and highly qualified medical professionals in rural communities.
  • Critical access hospitals create approximately 138,000 jobs nationwide.
  • The average critical access hospital creates 107 jobs and generates $4.8 million in payroll annually representing as much as 20% of a rural economy.
  • Often the largest or second largest employer in the area.
  • Despite representing 22% of all community hospitals, Medicare expenditures are less than 5% of the Medicare hospital budget.
  • Medicare could accrue approximately $7.2 billion in annual savings if the average cost per urban beneficiary were equal to the average cost per rural beneficiary.
  • The Office of Inspector General’s estimated savings represents less than 0.0006% of the total Medicare budget.

Why are critical access hospitals a target?

  • Office of Inspector General’s report estimates that had the critical access designation been removed from half of the nation’s critical access hospitals, it would have saved $373 million in 2011.
  • Both democrats and republicans want spending cuts. Rural programs are an easy target.
  • Many political leaders don’t understand critical access hospital payment system. They view cost plus reimbursement as a bonus. NEED TO EXPLAIN WHY IT’S NOT.

Current threats:

  • U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General released a report on August 15, 2013, that recommends the elimination of state-based determinations used to identify selected small, rural hospitals as necessary providers.
  • Congressional action on the 2013 Health and Human Services OIG report on critical access hospitals threatens the designations and viability of 846 critical access hospitals across the nation.
  • Continued reductions in the amount of bad debt critical access hospitals can claim for reimbursement.

About Valley West Hospital

Direct and indirect impact on community in fiscal year 2013 (May 2011-April 2012)





Supply purchases


Capital spending


Charity care


Bad debt




Total impact on community


  • Valley West Hospital, in one form or another, including Woodward Hospital from 1935-1960, Sandwich Community Hospital which opened April 1960 and changed names in 1998, has been a part of the Fox Valley community for more than 70 years.
  • In 2002, approximately 38,000 square foot addition was added to the north side of the hospital, expanding and upgrading the emergency department, materials management, surgical and operating suites, diagnostic imaging and Maternity SuitesAs part of their forward-thinking planning, the health system also purchased more than 20 acres of land contiguous to and north of the current Valley West campus for future growth.
  • The $6 million Medical Office Building on the north side of the Valley West campus opened in the fall of 2007. The building is now home to several physician offices and hospital services including Cardiac Rehab, Pain Management Clinic, Diabetes Education Center, Outpatient Dialysis, Diabetes Education Center, and the Karen Bohr Sepaniak Community Room.
  • In 2008, a $6.5 million project expanded surgical services, providing two more operating rooms, six day surgery rooms and a new recovery suite. Two new labor/delivery /recovery/post-partum maternity suites were added to the Maternity Suites, and more patient treatment areas were added to the Emergency Department.
  • In 2013, an $11 million new patient wing opened on the north side of the hospital.
  • Valley West, with financial support from KishHealth System, invested in the community’s healthcare by recruiting 26 primary care physicians and specialists over the past seven years, who opened private practices in Sandwich, Somonauk, Plano and Yorkville.

Who To Contact


Richard Durbin (D)

711 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Contact form on Durbin website

Mark Kirk (R)

524 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Contact form on Kirk website


Randy Hultgren (R), Illinois District 14

1797 W. State St., Suite A
Geneva, IL 60134

332 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515

Contact form on Hultgren website


Adam Kinzinger (R), Illinois District 16

628 Columbus St., Suite 507
Ottawa, IL 61350

342 W. Walnut
Watseka, IL 60970

401 Whitney Blvd.
Belvidere, IL 61008

1221 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515

Contact form on Kingzinger website. 

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