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Ask your Member of Congress to protect rural providers by extending vital payment programs

Recently proposed legislation aimed at updating the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR)(HR 3630) left out a number of vital rural Medicare “extenders.”  These "extenders" gained broad bipartisan support in the 111th Congress (PL 111-309) and are vital to ensuring that rural hospitals, doctors and other professionals can provide needed emergency and primary care.  If congressional action is not taken, these vital programs will expire at the end of December 2011.  Their expiration will inhibit the ability of hospitals and providers to recruit and retain professionals, further extending gaps in essential care. That is why NRHA asked Congress to stand up for rural providers by extending these vital programs in addition to those already proposed: Outpatient Hospital Hold Harmless Provisions Small rural hospitals (100 beds or fewer) receive Medicare payments so that they are held harmless from the effects of the outpatient prospective payment system. Section 508 Hospital Payments                                                                                   Created as part of the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) of 2003, certain rural hospitals, commonly referred to as “Section 508 Hospitals” are reimbursed by Medicare at rates that better account for the valuable service they provide to rural communities. Extension of physician fee schedule mental health add-on                  Increased payment rate for psychiatric services delivered by physicians, clinical psychologists and clinical social workers by 5 percent. Join the fight now by calling your representatives and senators and explaining the need to reauthorize all rural Medicare “extenders.”

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