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Senate Rural Health Caucus Calling for Retention of Funds for Rural Health

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Location: Washington, DC


Senate Rural Health Caucus Calling for Retention of Funds for Rural Health

Senators negotiating rural healthcare funding with House members should take a strong stance for these important provisions, according to U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP Committee) and fellow members of the Senate Rural Health Caucus.

Enzi and other members of the Caucus including its chairman Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., requested the Fiscal Year 2006 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill retain the Senate-passed funding levels for rural health programs when the conference committee resumes negotiations.

"It is vital that rural health care programs receive proper funding," Enzi said. "These programs play an important role in providing health services to those who live in medically under served areas, such as Wyoming."

In a letter addressed to Senator Arlen Specter, R-Penn., Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa the Subcommittee's Ranking Member, Enzi, Thomas and others, wrote that "while current spending for all rural health discretionary programs is relatively small, it plays a critical role in solidifying the fragile health care infrastructure common in rural communities."

"More than forty of my colleagues signed this letter. They know there is a lot at stake for rural America. I am hopeful the House will also realize that and go with the Senate numbers," said Enzi.

The Senate's FY 2006 budget resolution included a $100 million rural health amendment which would restore full funding for several important rural health initiatives such as the rural health flexibility grant program, rural health outreach grants, the small hospital improvement program, tele-health, trauma care, and rural access to emergency devices programs.

December 12, 2005
Senator Arlen Specter
Chairman
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee
Labor, Health and Human Services
184 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Senator:Tom Harkin
Ranking Member
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee
Labor, Health and Human Services
186 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Specter and Ranking Member Harkin:

As members of the Senate Rural Health Caucus as well as other interested Senators, we are writing to ask
that you retain the Senate-passed funding levels for rural health programs when the conference committee
resumes negotiations on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2006 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education
Appropriations bill.

As you know, the FY 2006 budget blueprint included a $100 million rural health amendment
which restored full funding for several important rural health initiatives such as the rural health flexibility
grant program, rural health outreach grants, the small hospital improvement program, telehealth, trauma
care, and rural access to emergency devices programs.

While current spending for all rural health discretionary programs is relatively small, it plays a critical
role in solidifying the fragile health care infrastructure common in rural communities. Through your
leadership and support, funding for these programs was maintained in the Senate during this year's
appropriations process. We understand the current constraints on the federal budget and recognize the
need to eliminate wasteful and inefficient programs. However, we also believe that we must continue to
support government policies that work.

Maintaining fiscal discipline is a top priority and we want to work with you toward that goal. However,
we respectfully request that you consider the important role these programs play in rural communities as
the conference committee prepares to report the "Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services,
Education and Related Agencies Appropriation Bill for Fiscal Year 2006."

Sincerely,

Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY)
Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND)
Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT)
Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Senator Max Baucus (D- MT)
Senator Jim Talent (R.-MO)
Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Senator Nonn Coleman (R-MN)
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR)
Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR)
Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Senator Russell Feingold (WS)
Senator Barack Obama (D- IL)
Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton (D-NY)
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Senator Michael Enzi (R-WY)
Senator Mary Landrieu (D- LA)
Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT)
Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND)
Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Senator Jeff Bingaman ( D-NM)
Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM)
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
Senator John Thune (R-SD)
Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT)
Senator John Warner (R-VA)
Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE)
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS)
Senator James Inhofe (R-OK)
Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO)
Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN)
Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN)
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)
Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD)

http://enzi.senate.gov/RuralHealth.pdf

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