Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS), John Barrasso (R-WY), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Al Franken (D-MN) last night introduced the Rural Hospital and Provider Equity Act (R-HoPE), AHA-supported legislation that would extend critical rural provisions that have expired or are set to expire and implement new provisions that would benefit rural hospitals. The bipartisan bill (S. 3435) would remove the 96-hour physician certification requirement as a condition of payment for critical access hospitals, and extend the enforcement moratorium on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ direct supervision policy for outpatient therapeutic services provided in CAHs and certain small, rural hospitals. “Rural hospitals face a unique set of challenges including workforce issues, constrained financial resources and increasingly burdensome federal regulations,” AHA Executive Vice President Tom Nickels said in a letter of support to the bill’s sponsors. “Your legislation would provide significant needed relief to rural hospitals to ensure they can continue to care for the patients in their communities.”