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Saving America’s Rural Hospitals

Dear Friend,

Our rural hospitals are in a crisis. This isn’t a new problem, but the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly made it worse.

For years, healthcare costs have gone up while Medicare reimbursement rates have gone down. That’s turned the screws on hospitals everywhere. However, it’s been a particular problem for rural America—where folks are much more likely to rely on Medicare.

Facing tighter budgets, rural hospitals have been faced with few good choices. They have to cut costs, find more money, or go bankrupt. Sadly, many have nothing left to cut, no way to find new revenue, and have been forced to close. Since 2005, more than 170 rural hospitals have closed their doors.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only added to the problem. Many rural hospitals were forced to suspend or reduce the number of elective procedures performed. Since that’s where many make their money, it’s made things even more difficult. Today, 453 rural hospitals are currently operating at levels similar to those that have shut their doors over the last decade.

Something has got to give. We must make real reforms before it’s too late. That’s why I’ve partnered with my Democrat colleague from California, Rep. Jared Huffman, to introduce the Save America’s Rural Hospitals Act, which would reverse falling Medicare reimbursement rates that have driven many rural hospitals to the brink.

It permanently ends Medicare sequestration cuts for small hospitals serving our rural communities—giving them the certainty they need to move forward. It also fully funds rural ambulance services to ensure our ambulance districts are being fairly reimbursed for their services. And, it makes enhanced rural telehealth services for rural health clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers permanent—allowing more folks in rural America to access healthcare from home.

All these changes will help put our rural hospitals back on track. That’s more important now than ever. We have to protect our rural hospitals. The best way we can do that is by giving them more certainty and reversing years of dangerous cuts. Our small hospitals are a vital lifeline for rural America. I’m going to keep working to make sure they can keep their doors open and keep serving the folks in rural America who depend on them.


Sam Graves

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