The American Hospital Association (AHA) is a tireless advocate working to ensure that the unique needs of our 2,000 plus rural hospital members are a national priority. This issue of the Small or Rural Update reviews the AHA rural advocacy agenda, federal rule making, national policy priorities and tools and resources for rural hospitals.
Senate Hearing Examines Rural Health Care: The Senate Finance Committee May 24 held a hearing on "Rural Health Care in America: Challenges and Opportunities." In a statement submitted for the record, AHA recommended legislative and regulatory actions to maintain access to health care in rural communities – from creating alternative payment models such as the rural emergency medical center to providing regulatory relief and expanding access to telehealth services. Hospital and health system witnesses at the hearing included Konnie Martin, CEO of San Luis Valley Health in Alamosa, Colo., who told the committee, "Federal payment systems and delivery models must...be updated to meet the realities and challenges of how health care is delivered today and in the future. In a country as great as ours, where you live should not determine if you live." During the hearing, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) expressed support for releasing bipartisan recommendations this year to help address some of the challenges of providing care in rural areas.