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NRHA asks leadership to protect important rural provisions

The National Rural Health Association sent a letter to leaders in the House and Senate today asking them to protect and extend the Low Volume Hospital Adjustment, the Medicare Dependent Hospital adjustment and the work geographic index floor under the Medicare physician fee schedule. NRHA also called for the extensions of the current rural ambulance payments;  exceptions process for Medicare therapy caps; Hospital wage index modifications; Outpatient Hold Harmless provision; physician fee schedule mental health add-on; and payment for qualifying hospitals in low-spending counties. Congress created these programs to help providers meet rural’s distinct challenges from higher percentages of Medicare beneficiaries, under-insured, and self-payer patients. While not magic bullets for rural health care providers, these programs help providers deal with a long standing inability to recruit and retain a strong medical workforce to rural America that has produced significant challenges to delivery. Additionally, a lack of financial incentives for physicians and non-physicians and other unique factors have long contributed to a shortage in the rural health care workforce and restricted meaningful access to care for all rural Americans. These programs help offset these inequities. NRHA is asking members of Congress to stand up for rural and to protect these important provisions which expired at the end of the fiscal year 2013 or will expire at the end of the calendar year 2013. The continued expiration of critical rural health programs will do nothing but weaken the rural health care delivery system.  

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