Rural Help Act looks to keep rural hospital doors open through Medicare reimbursement rates

Washington DC Bureau

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Lawmakers say rural hospitals are at a financial disadvantage.

“The hospitals in rural America should have the same benefit if they’re providing a procedure as the hospitals in the urban settings,” Pennsylvania Rep. Fred Keller said.

Keller introduced the Rural Help Act to require the federal government to equalize the Medicare reimbursement rates of rural and urban hospitals.

“This isn’t just to address the pandemic. This is to make sure that our rural hospitals get the due compensation they deserve so that they can be sustainable and provide healthcare in rural America in the future,” Keller said.

The national rural health association says more than 400 rural hospitals are at risk of closing, and Keller says adjusting the reimbursement rate will fix that.

“We shouldn’t be treated any differently and be getting a lower reimbursement rate simply because we are in a rural setting,” Keller said.

Pennsylvania Reps. Dwight Evans and Matt Cartwright like the idea of the bill, and are ready to work together.

“This is not a partisan issue. This is an issue where we really have to work together in order to address the challenges that we face,” Evans said.

“There’s a lot of power in Washington that supports urban places as well. Oftentimes they win the fight. So you kind of want to sidestep that fight if you want to help the local rural hospitals,” Cartwright said.

Evans and Cartwright also say passing the Heroes Act in the Senate would provide hospitals immediate relief.

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