Representatives Drew Ferguson (R-GA) and Terri Sewell (D-AL) have introduced the Save Rural Hospitals Act of 2021 to help curb hospital closures in rural communities by ensuring fairness in Medicare hospital payments.
As a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency, rural hospitals continue to lose revenue despite playing an essential role in serving their communities and providing lifesaving care during the pandemic.
During the pandemic, rural hospital closures accelerated to record levels with more than 20 rural hospitals closing in 2020. Low patient volumes and significant financial strain are often the primary factors involving these closures and are compounded by the flawed Medicare Area Wage Index that results in rural hospitals receiving disproportionately low reimbursement rates.
This legislation would establish an appropriate national minimum for the Medicare Area Wage Index so that rural hospitals receive their payment for the care they provide, while preserving the existing reimbursements for urban hospitals.
The legislation would also help ensure fairness in reimbursements for hospitals across the country, including the many hospitals that are facing closures in rural areas and at the same time, fix severe and disproportionate disadvantages that unfairly penalize hundreds of communities and hospitals across the country.
Go to https://congress.gov for more information on the Save Rural Hospitals Act of 2022 (HR 4066).
Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA, and Tim Kaine (D-VA).