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FAH Hospital Policy Blog

Perspectives on health policy affecting America's hospitals and the patients we serve.

Managed Care | Medicare | Rural Hospitals | FAH Policy Blog Team

FAH Urges Lawmakers to Protect Access to Care in Rural Areas During Lame Duck Session   

WASHINGTON: Federation of American Hospitals (FAH) President and CEO Chip Kahn recently sent a letter to Congressional leaders outlining year-end legislative priorities that are critical to protecting patients and their access to care – especially in rural areas. 

The letter applauds Congress for its bipartisan support on many issues vital to hospitals and patients, and highlights several areas where further action is needed during the post-election lame-duck session, including: 

Waiving Statutory Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) 

“Hospitals and providers across the country face a mandatory, across-the-board four percentage point cut to Medicare payments under pending statutory Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) sequester requirements.  

Hospitals continue to face historic fiscal and operational challenges from record inflation and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to unprecedented workforce shortages…Congressional action is again needed before the end of the year to prevent these destabilizing and unsustainable reductions from taking effect.” 

Reauthorize Key Rural Hospital Payment LVH (Low-Volume Hospital) & MDH (Medicare-dependent Hospital) Programs 

“It is critical that Congress reinforce fragile rural hospital finances by preventing those programs from expiring and making them permanent or, at a minimum, reauthorizing them for an extended number of years. This action would help ensure hospitals can sustain their crucial role serving patients in rural communities across America.” 

Protect Patients from Medicare Advantage (MA) Prior Authorization Obstacles to Care 

“The Medicare Advantage (MA) prior authorization system needs vast improvement and oversight in order to ensure patients have appropriate and timely access to care. 

“We were encouraged by the House’s overwhelming bipartisan passage of the Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act, which addresses many of these shortcomings by reducing unnecessary delays and denials of patient care while giving health care providers and clinicians greater ability to treat patients in a timely manner.  

“We urge the Senate to follow suit and pass its companion legislation before the end of the year to modernize MA prior authorization processes and better ensure beneficiary access to care.” 

Kahn concludes the letter writing, “Addressing the aforementioned legislative priorities will help provide long-term stability to hospitals across America and ensure we can continue to fulfill our mission of providing patients with access to the quality care they need 24/7.” 

You can find the complete letter here.