Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Bipartisan Delegation Introduces Legislation to Provide Financial Certainty for Rural Healthcare

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), David Loebsack (D-Iowa), Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), Trent Kelly (R-Miss.), and Collin C. Peterson (D-Minn.) introduced H.R. 4553 – the Critical Access and Rural Equity (CARE) Act of 2016. The bill establishes a baseline
of what is considered an allowable cost under Medicare – ensuring coverage of the most common diagnostic tests and services and removing barriers to care so that Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) can continue providing high quality healthcare in rural communities.

Critical Access Hospitals are paid based on each hospital’s reported costs for outpatient, inpatient, laboratory, and therapy services. As CAHs operate in communities with low patient volumes, they are reimbursed at 101% of allowable costs. However, there is variation between regions and auditors regarding what is considered a “reasonable” or “allowable” cost. This often results in an immense administrative, legal, and financial burden for these small providers.

“Rural communities in Mississippi and across the country depend on Critical Access Hospitals,” said Harper. I am proud to work with this bipartisan group to bring much-needed certainty to rural hospitals. Each of these hospitals plays a central role by maintaining access to inpatient and outpatient services, 24-hour emergency care, and economic viability to our rural communities. I have visited multiple CAHs across my Congressional District that struggle every day with small margins and this important legislation will provide them with the certainty that they deserve.”

“One of my top priorities has been to improve Iowans’ access to quality health care no matter where they live. Critical Access Hospitals play a key role in our rural communities by providing access to primary, emergency, and acute care services,” said Loebsack. “The Critical Access and Rural Equity (CARE) Act is a commonsense, bipartisan bill that will help bring certainty to these hospitals that serve as a resource for rural Iowans. I have visited Critical Access Hospitals across Iowa and I am proud to help introduce this bill to ensure they can continue to deliver quality, accessible care to all communities.”

“Critical Access Hospitals provide quality healthcare to residents who live in rural communities across Mississippi. However, many of these hospitals are struggling to keep their doors open due to the burden of unnecessary rules and regulations brought on by this administration. This bill cuts through some of that red tape and allows Critical Access Hospitals to continue providing healthcare services vital to our communities in South Mississippi and across our state,” said Palazzo.