Ferguson, Sewell Introduce the Save Rural Hospitals Act
Thursday, May 25th, 2023
U.S. Representatives Drew Ferguson (R-GA) and Terri Sewell (D-AL) today introduced the Save Rural Hospitals Act of 2023. This legislation would help curb hospital closures in rural communities by ensuring fairness in Medicare hospital payments.
“Rural hospitals play an essential role in serving their communities and providing vital care to patients,” said Representative Drew Ferguson. “Georgia has one of the lowest reimbursement rates nationwide, and the Save Rural Hospitals Act would help put rural hospitals in the Peach State – and across the country – on a level playing field by raising their Medicare reimbursement levels. I am proud to work with Representative Sewell on this bipartisan legislation.”
“All across Alabama, we’ve seen the devastating impact of rural hospital closures which have only accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Representative Terri Sewell. “It is unacceptable that so many Alabamians are being forced to drive hours to receive life-saving care. With this bipartisan legislation, we’re taking action to help keep rural hospitals open by ensuring that they are fairly reimbursed for the critical services they provide. I’m proud to join Congressman Ferguson in this effort and urge my colleagues to join us!”
Original Cosponsors: Representatives Buddy Carter (GA-01), Bennie Thompson (MS-02), Rick Allen (GA-12), Joe Neguse (CO-02), Tracey Mann (KS-01), and Diana Harshbarger (TN-01)
In the United States, rural hospitals are closing at an alarming rate with more than 130 rural hospitals having closed since 2010. During the COVID-19 pandemic, rural hospital closures accelerated to record levels with more than 20 rural hospitals closing in 2020. Low patient volumes and significant financial strain are often the primary factors in these closures and are compounded by the flawed Medicare Area Wage Index that results in rural hospitals receiving disproportionately lower reimbursement rates than that of their urban counterparts.
This legislation would establish an appropriate national minimum (0.85) for the Medicare Area Wage Index to ensure that rural hospitals receive their payment for the care they provide. This legislation would also help ensure fairness in reimbursements for hospitals across the country — including the many hospitals that are facing closures in rural areas — and fix severe and disproportionate disadvantages that unfairly penalize hundreds of communities and hospitals across the country.