The National Rural Health Association applauds the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), which represents 124,900 family physicians and medical students across the country, for supporting the Save Rural Hospitals Act.
In a letter to the bill’s cosponsors, Reps. Sam Graves (R-MO) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA), AAFP acknowledges the unique challenges faced by rural hospitals and recognizes the payment inequities that rural hospitals operate under and believes that they should be abolished.
Seventy-six rural hospital have close since 2010. Even more concerning is the 673 additional vulnerable rural hospitals, which equates to one-third of all rural hospitals in the U.S., are at risk of closure. These closures are a result of continued Medicare cuts in hospital payments. Rural hospitals are especially critical because the 62 million Americans who call rural America home are older, sicker, and poorer than their urban counterparts. These hospital closures have devastated rural communities and left residents with inadequate access to essential health care services.
The solution is legislation. NRHA urges members of Congress to co-sponsor this important legislation. NRHA also asks the Senate to introduce a companion bill. The Save Rural Hospitals Act will stop the flood of rural hospital closures and provide needed access to care for rural Americans. The bill will stabilize rural hospitals by reversing cuts that are devastating rural hospitals including “bad debt” reimbursement cuts, permanently extending current Low-Volume and Medicare Dependent Hospital payment levels, and eliminating Medicare and Medicaid DSH payment reductions.
The bill will provide regulatory relief by eliminating the CAH 96-Hour condition of payment, rebasing the supervision requirements for outpatient therapy services at CAHs and rural PPS facilities, and modifying the 2-Midnight Rule and RAC audit and appeals process. The bill also looks to the future to create an innovative delivery model that will ensure emergency access to care and allow hospitals the choice to offer outpatient care that meets the health needs of their rural community with a payment structure that will allow these hospitals to remain open and serving their communities.