Rural hospital and health system leaders today received an update on their legislative and policy priorities at an AHA Rural Hospital Policy Forum before meeting with their representatives on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), lead sponsor of the AHA-supported Rural Emergency Acute Care Hospital Act (S. 1130) and Rural Hospital Access Act (S. 872), spoke at the meeting and discussed the legislation and the importance of small rural hospitals to the economic health of communities.
Grassley also noted the importance of the 340B Drug Pricing Program, which helps safety-net hospitals reduce the price of outpatient pharmaceuticals for patients and expand health services to patients and the communities they serve. (The hospital outpatient prospective payment system proposed rule for calendar year 2018 would drastically cut Medicare payment for drugs acquired under the program.)
Another speaker at the meeting, Health Resources and Services Administration Administrator George Sigounas called the 340B program “an important asset for rural hospitals” and telehealth “a critical tool in access to care,” noting that “many rural hospitals are struggling.”
Also joining AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack and Executive Vice President Tom Nickels at the forum were Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Office of Minority Health Director Cara James, co-chair of the CMS Rural Health Council, and HRSA Associate Administrator for Rural Health Policy Tom Morris.