The Joint Commission's Critical Access Hospital Program Receives CMS Deeming Authority

Sarah Kearns, for HealthLeaders Media , July 24, 2009

The Joint Commission has again received deeming authority from the Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for the accreditation of critical access hospitals, according to an official announcement by The Joint Commission.

CMS determined that critical access hospital standards established by the Joint Commission met or exceeded standards established by the Medicare and Medicaid programs. With this approval, any critical access hospital the Joint Commission has accredited may choose to be "deemed" as meeting Medicare and Medicaid certification requirements.

Critical access hospitals have no more than 25 acute care beds and the average length of stay lasts no more than 96 hours. Normally, these hospitals receive cost-based reimbursement from Medicare, and are usually not more than 35 miles from another critical access hospital. While accreditation is completely voluntary, seeking deemed status through accreditation is an option.

"Critical access hospitals are an important safety net," said Mark Felletier, RN, MS, executive director, Accreditation and Certification Services, The Joint Commission, in an official statement. "The Joint Commission is pleased to collaborate with CMS to provide quality oversight for these important providers of rural health care."

The CMS notice of approval will be effective through November 21, 2011.

The Joint Commission also has deeming authority for ambulatory surgery centers, durable medical equipment suppliers, home health, hospice, hospitals and laboratories.

Sarah Kearns is an editor for HCPro in the Quality and Patient Safety Group. Contact Sarah at

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