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Casey, Grassley Introduce Bill to Provide Financial Stability and Security to Rural Hospitals

Rural hospitals account for 14 percent of total employment in rural areas on average

Washington, D.C. – As rural hospitals across the country struggle to stay open and meet high demand due to COVID-19, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) are introducing legislation that would provide such hospitals with financial stability and predictability, preventing closures that would disrupt access to care for individuals in rural communities. The Rural Hospital Support Act would extend and update federal programs to ensure these hospitals can stay fiscally solvent.

“Every American deserves reliable access to health care,” said Senator Casey. “Rural hospitals can be the difference between life and death in many parts of the U.S. Often, a rural hospital means not only safe, dependable access to health care and emergency health needs, but economic safety and stability for an entire community. This legislation takes an important step to maintain that lifeline, especially for older adults and lower income Americans. I will continue to work to bring federal funding to rural communities and make sure older Americans have the health care support they need no matter where they live.”

“These programs bring a lot of value for rural residents and taxpayers,” Grassley said. “Small, rural hospitals offer good-quality health care at a cost that compares well with urban hospitals’ cost. Congress should extend the programs that help keep the doors open for rural Medicare beneficiaries.”

Specifically, the Rural Hospital Support Act would:

  • Make permanent the enhanced low-volume Medicare adjustment for small rural prospective payment system hospitals. The low-volume Medicare adjustment helps to level the playing field for hospitals in small and isolated communities whose operating costs often outpace their revenue;
  • Update the year on which sole community hospitals and Medicare-dependent hospitals can base their operating costs from FY2012 to FY2016. This would ensure these hospitals can tie reimbursement estimates to more recent trends in costs under Medicare's inpatient prospective payment system; and
  • Make permanent the Medicare-Dependent Hospital program which ensures that eligible rural hospitals are reimbursed for their costs.

Read more about the Rural Hospital Support Act here.