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NRHA members testify before Congress on rural health disparities

The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health held a hearing today on rural health disparities.   Several National Rural Health Association members testified on the importance of rural programs and how cuts and regulations are burdening their facilities.

Shannon Sorensen, CEO of Brown County Hospital in Ainsworth, Neb.; Carrie Saia, CEO of Holton Community Hospital in Holton, Kan.; and Daniel Derksen, director of the Arizona Center for Rural Health, each outlined the challenges of rural health care delivery, citing workforce shortages, older and poorer patient populations, geography, low patient volumes and high uninsured and under-insured populations as barriers.

The witnesses also highlighted how rural physicians and hospitals provide high quality, personalized care to their communities.

A common theme was the impact of burdensome regulations on their hospitals, such as the “96-hour-rule” and “physician supervision.” Also highlighted was the concern for rural hospital closures and the consequences to rural Americans access to local health care.

With 55 rural hospitals already closed, and 283 additional hospitals on the brink of closure, the witnesses shared how important local access to health care is in improving the health of the those in the communities they serve. As Sorensen stated, being 150 miles from the next tertiary care facility, it is important to be able to keep people in their community while they receive care.

Hospital administrators sharing stories of patients directly and negatively impacted by these regulations is a powerful message heard by Congress, and NRHA encourages its members to call their representatives and  senators and share their stories of how cuts and closures affect their communities.

NRHA’s Save Rural Hospitals Act is the comprehensive solution to the rural hospital closure crisis. Ask your representatives to co-sponsor NRHA’s Save Rural Hospitals Act today to ensure the future of rural America, and join NRHA’s continued campaign to #‎SaveRural hospitals, patients and communities.

Learn more about the legislation and how you can help at 1 p.m. CDT Thursday during a free NRHA grassroots advocacy call.

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