Reps. Smith, Sewell, McMorris Rodgers, and Loebsack Introduce Bipartisan Rural Health Clinic Modernization Act
May 16, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Reps. Adrian Smith (R-NE-3), Terri Sewell (D-AL-07), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-05), and Dave Loebsack (D-IA-2) introduced the Rural Health Clinic Modernization Act. This legislation provides regulatory relief for Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and updates Medicare reimbursements to independent RHCs. The 4,100 RHCs nationwide provide essential primary care and preventative services in rural and underserved areas, either independently or affiliated with a hospital with fewer than 50 beds.
Currently, RHCs are subject to certain regulations, some of which have not been changed since the RHC program started in 1977. This legislation would remove outdated requirements for onsite laboratory equipment which is no longer used, expand the ability of Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants to provide care in RHCs, and improve access to telehealth in rural areas by allowing clinics to function as a distant site to provide telehealth services.
“Rural Health Clinics serve as the primary care center to many Americans living in rural areas. In Nebraska’s Third District alone, there are 111 Rural Health Clinics. We must stop the trend of clinics shuttering because of outdated regulations,” said Rep. Smith. “This bipartisan effort would enable Rural Health Clinics able to operate efficiently and safely, while keeping their doors open and ready to help those in need.”
“Whether they live in Birmingham or Wilcox County, Alabamians should have access to quality, affordable health care,” Rep. Sewell said. “Alabama is home to over 100 Rural Health Clinics that provide critical services in their communities. The Rural Health Clinic Modernization Act will strengthen our Rural Health Clinics by expanding the ability of physician assistants and nurse practitioners to provide care in these clinics, increasing access to telehealth services and helping ensure clinics can keep their doors open in our rural communities.”
“As co-chair of the Congressional Rural Health Coalition, ensuring access to medical care in rural communities will always be a top priority for me,” said McMorris Rodgers. “This bipartisan legislation helps meet that goal by providing regulatory relief to Rural Health Clinics and updating Medicare reimbursements so these independent clinics can keep their doors open and serve the Eastern Washington community.”
“Rural health clinics are bedrocks of their communities, providing more than just access to high quality, local health care,” Rep. Loebsack said. “Rural health clinics help stimulate the local economy, creating jobs both in the clinic and community. Without local health care, lives and communities are lost. This bill will help rural Iowans as well as the communities where they have built their lives.”