Fifty-five rural hospitals have closed since 2010, and 283 more are on the brink of closure, risking access to much-needed health care for more than 700,000 Americans.
That’s why the National Rural Health Association advanced the Save Rural Hospitals Act, introduced today by U.S Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa).
The bipartisan bill will stabilize and strengthen rural hospitals by:
- Stopping the many cuts in Medicare that rural hospitals have endured for years,
- Providing rural hospitals with new funding so they can provide quality primary care to rural patients across the nation, and
- Creating a path forward for struggling rural hospitals by allowing them to provide care that makes sense in their communities and receive fair reimbursement for emergency room and primary care.
“If Congress doesn’t act soon, almost 20 percent of Missouri’s rural hospitals could close, forcing tens of thousands of rural Missourians to lose access to their local emergency rooms,” Graves says. “My bill will save rural lives in rural communities in Missouri and across America.”
The Save Rural Hospitals Act will provide these hospitals with financial and regulatory relief to allow them to stay open and care for rural residents who are older, poorer and have higher rates of chronic disease than their urban counterparts. The average critical access hospital creates 195 jobs and generates $8.4 million in annual payroll.
“Rural hospitals are bedrocks of their communities, providing more than just high quality, local access to health care,” Loebsack explains. “Rural hospitals stimulate the local economy, creating jobs in the hospital and the community. Without local health care, lives and communities are lost. Our bill will save rural Iowans as well as the communities where they have built their lives.”
Since January 2013, more rural hospitals have closed than in the previous 10 years combined. If Congress doesn’t act now to prevent further closures, rural hospitals will be forced to lay off workers, cut wages, reduce services and close doors. Lives will be lost, and local economies will suffer.
“The National Rural Health Association has led the fight to stop rural hospital closures across the nation,” says Jodi Schmidt, 2015 NRHA president. “We’re calling on Congress to pass this comprehensive legislation to save rural hospitals and patients and to provide a pathway to the future for rural health.”
Ask your representatives to co-sponsor NRHA’s Save Rural Hospitals Act today to ensure the future of rural America.
And join NRHA’s continued campaign to #SaveRural hospitals, patients and communities.
Learn more about the legislation and how you can help at 1 p.m. CDT Thursday during a free NRHA grassroots advocacy call.