Congressmen Greg Walden (R-OR) and Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) co-chair the 182-member RURAL HEALTH CARE COALITION (RHCC), a bi-partisan coalition of Members of the U.S. House of Representatives committed to advancing rural priorities in health care policy. Since its inception, the RHCC has been a very active and effective force in Congress. It has been successful in establishing the Office of Rural Health Policy within the Department of Health and Human Services, establishing the Rural Health Transition Grant Program, and forming the Critical Access Hospital program.
The Coalition has built on its successes by maintaining and increasing appropriations funding for various rural health programs, improving access to physicians in rural America by passing legislation to continue the J1 Visa Waiver program, and providing additional improvements to rural health programs.
On April 27, Walden and Pomeroy held a press conference on Capitol Hill to announce the introduction of H.R. 5118, the Medicare Rural Provider Payment Extension Act, which would extend critical provisions relating to Medicare reimbursement/payment methods for rural health providers. Back in 2003 when Congress Passed the Medicare Modernization Act, they recognized the inequity of the Medicare payment system as it related to rural vs. urban reimbursements and included the most generous rural health payment plan in the Congress' history to help offset this discrepancy. The MMA made adjustments to Medicare reimbursement methods for such services as home care, ambulance services, lab work and general physician work to make payments more fair and reasonable, thus allowing rural health providers to stay in business and ensuring continued access to health care for rural Americans. H.R. 5118 was introduced with strong bipartisan support from Members throughout the United States, and Walden and Pomeroy will continue to work with their colleagues on the RHCC to advance this legislation through Congress.
The bill earned early support from key national organizations:
National Rural Health Association
American Hospital Association
American Osteopathic Association
National Association for Home Care and Hospice