Sam Graves-Protecting Our Rural Hospitals
At the end of this month, two programs you’ve probably never heard of will expire: the Medicare Dependent Hospital Program and the Medicare Low-Volume Price Adjustment. Despite these programs flying under the radar, both have a tremendous impact on our hospitals, our communities, and our lives.
Both programs were designed to help hospitals that care for a large share of Medicare patients keep their doors open, mostly in rural areas. These programs are important because Medicare pays hospitals significantly less than private insurance for the same services. So, when hospitals take care of a large number of Medicare patients, it can quickly put a hospital in financial distress. When a hospital is already struggling, like many in rural Missouri, it can spell disaster.
The expiration of these two programs would cost hospitals in North Missouri nearly $4 million this year. Across the state, hospitals would lose more than $13 million this year. Undoubtedly, allowing that to happen would have a detrimental effect on these critical facilities.
Not only would that be a disaster for our communities, but it would also be a disaster for the Medicare program. Closures would force many retirees to travel further to get the care they need. Sometimes that extra thirty minutes or hour of travel time can mean the difference between life and death. We can't just let these programs expire.
That's why I introduced the Rural Hospital Extensions for Low-Volume Programs (HELP) Act. My bill will permanently extend these programs and give our rural hospitals the certainty they need to continue caring for our loved ones and investing in our communities.
I was born in a small rural hospital, as were my kids and grandkids. Throughout our lives, like so many others in rural America, we've depended on a small rural hospital to take care of us when we need it most. That's why I'm committed to ensuring these programs keep going and protecting our rural hospitals.
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