BPC Action Applauds Rural Health Bills in Health

Americans in rural communities face a unique set of challenges when it comes to accessing quality health care. Not only must they often travel long distances to receive care, many areas have seen a flurry of hospital closures and are not equipped with broadband, making it difficult to access telehealth or virtual care. Further exacerbating these issues is the COVID-19 pandemic, which has spotlighted the urgency of the pre-existing crisis in rural health.

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Rural Health Task Force recently released a report with recommendations to mitigate the urgent health care issues facing rural communities and provide long-term solutions, and we are pleased to see several bills introduced this Congress that align with these proposals. BPC Action applauds the members who worked on a bipartisan basis to introduce these bills and urges Congress to swiftly move these pieces of legislations so that Americans in rural communities can access timely and quality health care:

  • Chronic Care Management Act (H.R. 3436) to fully eliminate beneficiary cost-sharing for CCM services. Introduced by Reps. DelBene (D-WA), Duncan (R-SC), and Welch (D-VT).
  • Indian Health Service Health Professions Tax Fairness Act of 2019 (S. 2871) to create an exemption from federal and state income tax for IHS providers. Introduced by Sens. Udall (D-NM) and Murkowski (R-AK).
  • Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act (S. 2074 and H.R. 2482), which removes the additional DEA waiver requirement for M-OUD treatment and allows community health aides and community health practitioners in tribal areas to dispense prescriptions issued through telehealth by an authorized provider at a distant site. Introduced by Sens. Hassan (D-NH) and Murkowski (R-AK) and Rep. Tonko (D-NY).
  • Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2019 (S. 286 and H.R. 945) to amend the Social Security Act by including MFTs and licensed mental health counselors as Medicare-approved providers. Introduced by Sens. Barrasso (R-AR) and Stabenow (D-MI) and Reps. Thompson (D-CA) and Katko (R-NY).
  • Rural ACO Improvement Act (S. 2648) and the Accountable Care in Rural America Act (H.R. 5212), which would direct the secretary of HHS to exclude attributed beneficiaries from the regional spending benchmark. Introduced by Sens. Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Roberts (R-KS) and Reps. Arrington (R-TX), DelBene (D-WA), Marshall (R-KS), and Bera (D-CA).
  • Rural Hospital Sustainability Act (S. 2157 and H.R. 6962) would provide a financial backbone for struggling rural health systems by expanding upon an existing demonstration program through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). It would allow states to voluntarily implement a global budget for rural hospitals in lieu of the existing fee-for-service model. Under this program, private and public insurers pay rural hospitals a fixed amount of revenue — a global budget — to cover all inpatient and hospital-based outpatient services. Introduced by Sen. Casey (D-PA) and Reps. Cartwright (D-PA) and Young (R-AK).
  • Rural MOMS Act (S. 2373 and H.R.4243) would increase funding by directly providing HRSA with $15 million over five years to provide grants for rural obstetric clinical training and coordinated maternal care regionalization. Introduced by Sens. Smith (D-MN), Murkowski (R-AK), Jones (D-AL), and Capito (R-WV) and Reps. Torres Small (D-NM), Newhouse (R-WA), Finkenauer (D-IA), Latta (R-OH), Luján (D-NM), and Cole (R-OK).Americans in rural communities face a unique set of challenges when it comes to accessing quality health care.