U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Dallas, and U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-Allentown, are introducing the Fairness for Rural Teaching Hospitals Act to extend a crucial program to small rural hospitals across the country and update calculations used by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to ensure that rural teaching hospitals receive a higher and fairer reimbursement.
These hospitals include St. Luke’s Miners Memorial Hospital in Meuser’s district and St. Luke’s Easton Campus in Wild’s district, as well 136 other rural hospitals across the country, according to a news release from Meuser’s office.
“It’s imperative that our rural hospitals are not deprived of the funding needed to continue offering essential healthcare services in their communities,” Meuser said, according to the news release. “It’s also vital that teaching hospitals receive reimbursements that empower them to continue and expand their programs. Rural teaching hospitals should not be penalized for providing healthcare to those who need it most while educating the next generation of health care workers.”
“Without the Fairness for Rural Teaching Hospitals Act, 138 hospitals across the country would lose vital resources needed to deliver high-quality care to patients,” said Wild, according to the news release. “As rural hospitals continue to face staffing shortages, this bill would ensure hospitals can continue to teach and train the next generation of rural health care workers.”
“Rural Medicare Dependent Hospitals should be encouraged to train physicians, not discouraged,” explained Wendy Lazo, St. Luke’s Hospital Miners Campus president, according to the news release. “Having medical residencies shouldn’t result in lower Medicare payments than teaching hospitals that do not see as many Medicare patients.”
The program in question supports 174 hospitals across the United States which receive an enhanced payment from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Without Congressional action, the program will end on Dec. 16. Hospitals, the news release said, would lose their ability to receive an enhanced reimbursement from CMS, seriously impacting their ability to operate.