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House to vote on bipartisan health care bills important for rural health

This evening, the House is set to vote on a number of health care related bills from the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees. Of particular interest for rural health care are two trauma bills and one about volunteer firefighters and emergency first responders. We all know that rural populations are less likely to have access to trauma care locally. Yet, access to trauma care can be the difference between life and death. Today the House is expected to pass under suspension of the rules two important bills to improve access to trauma care: H.R. 647 - Access to Life-Saving Trauma Care for All Americans Act and H.R. 648 - Trauma Systems and Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act. With these bills the House explicitly affirms the importance of access to trauma care for rural Americans. With so many rural communities relying heavily on volunteer firefighters and emergency responders, H.R. 1191 provides an important exemption from counting these volunteers as employees under the Affordable Care Act. This bill will protect local communities that rely on their volunteer emergency service providers from paying penalties or having to find money in already tight local government budgets to provide an offer of health insurance to volunteers that often already have insurance offered through their employers. This protection was passed by the House in the 113th Congress but failed to make it to the President's desk. Three additional bills will improve regulatory transparency for new medical therapies (H.R. 639), ensure Medicare beneficiaries are aware when they are on observation stay (H.R. 876), and addressed certain issues with durable medical equipment bidding (H.R. 284). After passage in the House, these bills will hopefully be quickly taken up in the Senate. Contact your members of Congress today and let them know how important these bills are for Rural America.

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