Access to quality and affordable health care remains among one of Congressman Walden's top priorities. As a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has jurisdiction over health care related issues, and as co-chair of the bipartisan House Rural Health Care Coalition (RHCC), Congressman Walden is constantly working to improve Americans' abilities to receive and pay for quality care. The issue of accessibility in health care is extremely important for everyone, especially those with disabilities, the elderly, our children, expectant mothers, those with life-threatening diseases such as cancer or AIDS, and those who live in rural areas separated by long distances from the nearest medical facility. In recognition of his work on rural health care issues, Congressman Walden was named the National Rural Health Association's 2005 "Legislator of the Year."
Ensuring Access to Health Care for Rural Americans
On June 27, 2007, Congressman Walden and fellow RHCC co-chair, Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) unveiled the Health Care Access and Rural Equity (H-CARE) Act of 2007. H.R. 2860, which was introduced with 52 bipartisan co-sponsors, is a comprehensive bill that makes several improvements to our nation's health care infrastructure. The improvements will help rural health care providers address the unique challenges associated with delivering quality health care close to home in rural areas like Oregon's Second Congressional District.
H.R. 2860 will:
* Authorize health information technology grants for rural practitioners.
* Provide flexibility in the number of beds Critical Access Hospitals are allowed to fill.
* Require prompt payment to rural pharmacies by Medicare prescription drug plans.
* Ensure adequate rural representation on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.
* Establish a Rural Heath Quality Advisory Commission.
* Raise Rural Health Clinic reimbursements to more appropriately cover costs.
* Extend several expiring Medicare adjustment payments for rural practitioners including physicians practicing in physician-scarce areas, rural ambulance providers, rural home health agencies and specific classes of rural hospitals.
Rural caregivers and rural patients deserve a better partner in the federal government when it comes to the health of rural America. It is time that rural America stops being treated like a second-class constituency when it comes to issues like Medicare reimbursement. The H-CARE Act delivers commonsense solutions to obstacles that can inhibit the delivery of quality health care to millions of Americans.
To date, 14 national organizations have endorsed the H-CARE Act of 2007:
National Rural Health Association
American Hospital Association
American Osteopathic Association
American Ambulance Association
National Association of Rural Health Clinics
National Association for Home Care and Hospice
College of American Pathologists
Rural Referral Center/Sole Community Hospital Coalition
Federation of American Hospitals
American Counseling Association
American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists
Association of Community Pharmacists
The Section 508 Hospital Coalition
American Mental Health Counselors Association
Grande Rhonde Hospital