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Senator Hyde-Smith co-sponsors bipartisan legislation to support rural hospitals



Sen Cindy Hyde-Smith
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith during a subcommittee hearing March 11 2020. (Photo courtesy Sen. Hyde-Smith)

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) has announced her co-sponsorship of a crucial legislation aimed at bolstering federal resources for rural hospitals, ensuring their continued operation. The Rural Hospital Support Act (S.1110), a bipartisan effort, seeks to extend and strengthen existing Medicare programs that provide vital financial support to healthcare facilities in rural communities.

The proposed legislation would permanently extend the Medicare-dependent Hospital (MDH) and Low-Volume Hospital (LVH) programs. Additionally, it would introduce new payment adjustments for Sole Community Hospitals (SCH) and Medicare-dependent hospitals, basing the payments on their fiscal year 2016 operating costs. If implemented, these adjustments would lead to higher payments for these hospitals, effectively relieving some of the financial burdens they face.

Speaking about the significance of this legislation, Senator Hyde-Smith highlighted the critical role of rural hospitals in serving Mississippians, particularly those residing in rural areas. She emphasized the potential devastating impact if these hospitals were to be forced to close due to financial constraints. By cosponsoring the Rural Hospital Support Act, she aims to provide rural hospitals with the necessary reassurances that these Medicare programs they depend on will be permanently authorized, eliminating concerns about potential lapses in funding.

“Mississippians, especially those in rural communities, understand the financial stresses on their local hospitals and how devastating it would be if they were forced to close,” Hyde-Smith said. “This bipartisan legislation would give assurances to rural hospitals that certain Medicare programs on which they rely are authorized permanently and not subject to lapsing.”

The proposed legislation does not alter other Medicare programs utilized by Mississippi hospitals serving rural communities. Programs such as critical access hospitals (CAH), Rural Referral Centers (RRC), Rural Community Hospital Demonstration, and the voluntary Rural Emergency Hospitals (REH) will remain unaffected.

The Rural Hospital Support Act was authored by U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.). The bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee for further review and consideration. It has garnered support from organizations such as the Rural Hospital Association, American Hospital Association, and Alliance for Rural Hospital Access, emphasizing the broad consensus on the urgent need to protect and sustain rural hospitals.

If passed into law, the Rural Hospital Support Act would provide a vital lifeline to rural hospitals, offering long-term stability and financial support. With the support of Senator Hyde-Smith and her colleagues, there is renewed hope for the continued provision of quality healthcare services to rural communities across the nation.

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