Rural hospital associations are waiting to see movement on several bills that would further their cause.
In the most recent session of Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike introduced legislation supporting rural hospitals. How to advance those efforts will likely be a topic of discussion as rural healthcare leaders gather next week in Phoenix for the 29th annual Rural Health Care Leadership Conference.
The gathering will bring together rural hospital administrators and trustees, public health officials, and nursing and physician executives. Sessions will focus on the impact that industry changes will have on rural providers, including provider consolidation, the growing role of nurse practitioners and federal regulations.
The Save Rural Hospitals Act, introduced last session, would roll back Medicaid bad debt and disproportionate-share hospital pay cuts to rural hospitals. It would also relax physician supervision requirements to make it easier for rural nurses and physician assistants to perform routine medical procedures.
The recently introduced Rural Emergency Acute Care Hospital Act would create a new Medicare payment designation for “rural emergency hospitals.” Those facilities would receive 110% of normal reimbursement for providing 24/7 emergency care and observational care in some cases. No action has been taken on either bill since last summer.