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NRHA submits testimony to protect Medicare payments for rural providers

Today NRHA submitted testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Health about various expiring Medicare provider payments.  The extension of these provisions is vital to the rural health care safety net. A number of Medicare provider payment policies are set to expire on or before December 31, 2011. Today’s hearing focused on the impact these provisions have on health care providers. Provisions expected to expire include Geographic Practice Cost Indices (GPCIs), mental health add-on payments and direct billing for technical component of pathology services. NRHA’s testimony focuses on the association’s concerns for rural beneficiaries and the need to provide security to the fragile rural health care safety net.  A primary concern is payment equity and access to care in the Medicare system, where rural beneficiaries are most likely to enroll. Several of these payment provisions were created by Congress to improve access to care in rural America, and have been successful in meeting that goal.  Continuation of these payment provisions is crucial, and NRHA has long sought legislation to make the payments permanent. Rural America needs the extension of these programs to retain physicians and promote rural physician recruitment. Without the extension of these programs, the negative impact on the rural health infrastructure and local economies would be devastating.  Medicare beneficiaries should not lose access to local services and care.

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