Originally published by Healthleaders Media on 6/28/22    

Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) want to extend financial programs to help rural hospitals.

A bipartisan initiative led by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) is underway to extend the critical federal financial aid programs that have been helping keep rural hospitals afloat.

The Rural Hospital Support Act aims to extend the Medicare-dependent Hospital and Low-Volume Hospital designations—on a permanent basis—which are set to expire on Oct. 1, 2022.

“Rural hospitals are a lifeline to rural communities,” the legislation says. “In some cases, the closing of a rural hospital can mean the difference between life and death for people in the surrounding communities. Rural hospitals often provide care to patients that are older, sicker and poorer compared to national averages as well as patients that are more likely to rely on Medicare and Medicaid.”

The low volume Medicare adjustment helps small hospitals whose operating costs are often greater than their revenue keep their heads above water. The Medicare-Dependent Hospital program makes sure eligible rural hospitals are reimbursed for their costs.

For us, the programs that this particular bill will support and make permanent, that amounts to $500,000 to $600,000 dollars just for our facility,” Franklin Medical Center Administrator Blake Kramer told his local news station. This puts us in a position where we are less likely to have to make any type of immediate cuts to absorb the loss of that type of revenue.”

Amanda Schiavo is the Finance Editor for HealthLeaders.