Approximately 57 million Americans live in rural areas and depend upon the hospitals in their communities. Remote geographic location, small size, limited workforce, physician shortages and often constrained financial resources pose a unique set of challenges for rural hospitals. Rural hospitals’ patient mix also makes them more reliant on public programs and, thus, particularly vulnerable to Medicare and Medicaid payment cuts.
Medicare and other federal programs must account for the special circumstances of rural communities. The AHA focuses on protecting vital funding, securing the future of existing special rural payment programs – including the critical access hospital (CAH), sole community hospital (SCH), Medicare-dependent hospital (MDH) and rural referral center (RRC) programs – and relieving regulatory burden. With congressional budget crises a continued threat in Washington, the continued viability of small and rural health care providers remains in jeopardy.
Hospitals are transforming the way health care is delivered in their communities, working with other providers and community leaders to build a continuum of care to make sure every individual gets the right care at the right time in the right setting. In order to continue this transformation, and to provide patients with the access to care they need and expect, hospitals need a supportive and modernized public policy environment. Below are some of the key areas of focus for AHA’s advocacy agenda.
Rural Hospital Advocacy Agenda
The AHA supports policies and legislation that enable rural hospitals to care for their communities. Read some key areas of focus for our 2018 Rural Advocacy Agenda.