Central Washington’s Dan Newhouse joined a handful of fellow representatives late last week, calling on House and Senate leadership to provide additional resources for rural hospital during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Newhouse pointed out rural communities face unique challenges when it comes to health care access, and these challenges are only made worse by the current public health crisis. The bipartisan letter asked as Congress begins considering a third legislative package to address the coronavirus pandemic, that more be done to help rural America.
“Rural hospitals are not only emergency care providers during a time of crisis, but often are primary health care access points for the communities they serve,” the Members continued. “In many rural communities, Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) are the economic engines of the local economy, often serving as the largest employer and economic developer of the medical service area. They fill this role despite the many fiscal constraints they face, and the Coronavirus emergency exposes some of the biggest financial vulnerabilities of these providers. Given the increasing severity of this public health crisis, I respectfully request your prompt attention to the unique challenges facing our rural communities, and the critical role rural providers serve in protecting our most vulnerable populations.”
The letter specifically outlines the following priorities:
- An increase in currently low reimbursement rates for rural hospitals’ budgets who are already stretched thin
- A temporary suspension of the “Medicare sequester” to rural hospitals would help their financial viability during the Coronavirus pandemic
- Federal support for the unique staffing crisis rural healthcare providers are facing in order to maintain access to care for communities across the country
- Payment structure changes in response to current patient surges
- A guarantee that rural localities have access to COVID-19 related testing
- An appropriate increase in medical products, supplies, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- An immediate expansion of telehealth services
Oregon’s Peter DeFazio was the only other Northwest lawmaker to sign last week’s letter.
Click Here to read the entire letter sent to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
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