Federation of American Hospitals (FAH) President and CEO Chip Kahn sent a letter to leaders in the House and Senate urging them to reauthorize the Medicare-dependent Hospital (MDH) and Low-Volume Hospital (LVH) programs before they expire at the end of September.
“Rural hospitals traditionally serve patient populations that are older, lower income, uninsured and more likely to rely on Medicare and Medicaid when compared to the national average and to their urban counterparts,” the letter states. “This challenging patient demographic means rural hospitals have a high volume of Medicare-dependent patients, and a lower volume of total patients overall. The MDH and LVH payment programs provide eligible rural hospitals with the financial stability and support they need to prevent closures and ensure continued access to care in rural communities.”
The letter outlines the major challenges facing rural hospitals right now from rising inflation and supply chain challenges to the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and particularly the growing workforce shortage.
The MDH and LVH programs have bipartisan support in Congress, including a bill just recently introduced by Reps. Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Carol Miller (R-WV) – H.R. 8747, The Assistance for Rural Community Hospitals (ARCH) Act. This legislation, which is supported by FAH, would reauthorize the programs for an additional five years.
Kahn concludes the letter by writing, “Addressing these two bipartisan legislative priorities now will give greater certainty to rural hospitals across America and provide a lifeline to our rural health care infrastructure.”
A full copy of the letter can be found here.
It was sent to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).