Extending healthcare access and improving healthcare for rural communities

Jun 25, 2024
Article Background

According to the CDC, about 15% of the U.S. population live in rural areas, yet these communities have fewer healthcare resources than their urban counterparts.

On May 8, 2024, the House Ways and Means Committee held a markup of six healthcare bills designed to support expanding access to virtual care, including telehealth, and access to healthcare in rural .   We aim to keep our community informed about upcoming legislative changes affecting rural America, ensuring you are well-prepared to navigate the new regulations all while continuing to provide essential services to your community.

Here’s an overview of the legislation introduced:

The Preserving Telehealth, Hospital, and Ambulance Access Act expands Medicare telehealth for two years, hospital-at-home flexibilities for five years and Medicare supplemental payments for rural hospitals and crucial emergency ambulance services.

The PEAKS Act (H.R. 7931)
The Preserving Emergency Access in Key Sites Act (PEAKS Act) ensures critical access hospitals in mountainous areas are compensated fairly for the ambulatory services they provide to patients and positively impact rural communities across the nation.

The Rural Hospital Stabilization Act (H.R. 8245)
The Rural Hospital Stabilization Act will help stabilize rural America’s health system by providing grants to these rural hospitals to prevent closures and allow them to continue delivering quality care to their patients.

The Ensuring Seniors’ Access to Quality Care Act (H.R. 8244)
If passed, the Ensuring Seniors’ Access to Quality Care Act would allow nursing homes to continue operating onsite nurse aide training programs despite certain deficiencies, as long as the deficiencies are not directly related to resident care.

The Rural Physician Workforce Preservation Act (H.R. 8235)
The Rural Physician Workforce Preservation Act supports the next generation of doctors in rural America by ensuring that 10 percent of the recently approved 1,200 Medicare Graduate Medical Education slots dedicated to rural hospitals go to truly rural hospitals by striking the “treated as rural” loophole.

The Second Chances for Rural Hospitals Act (H.R. 8246)
The Second Chances for Rural Hospitals Act moves back the eligibility date for a closed hospital to convert to a Rural Emergency Hospital from December 27, 2020, to January 1, 2014, allowing previously closed rural hospitals to convert to an REH and bring back services to rural and underserved communities.

Advocating for rural healthcare is at the forefront of everything we do.

The markup from the House Ways & Means Committee can be found here > while summaries of each bill can be found in the provided one pager here >