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Ensuring Quality Health Care Returns

Statement

By:
Date:
Location: Johnson City, TN

As a physician, I understand what a difficult job health care providers have had during this public health crisis. Despite the risks of becoming sick themselves, these workers are continuing to show up every day to care for patients and put the needs of others above their own. Unfortunately, many providers have temporarily lost their jobs or seen reduced pay because of state and local restrictions on elective procedures, as well as patients' own reluctance to seek out care during the pandemic. One of my priorities is ensuring providers have the resources and support they need so that our health care system comes back just as strong as it was.

The first step to ensuring our health care system can rebound was to pass critical funding to make up for lost revenue. Between the CARES Act and subsequent legislation, President Trump and Congress have provided $175 billion for our nation's health care providers. As a member of the House GOP Doctors Caucus, I have been engaged with the administration to ensure providers of all sizes and types receive some of these desperately-needed resources.

While this funding will help, there's no question this crisis has impacted rural areas much more severely. Many rural facilities were already struggling to keep their doors open from years of low reimbursements and hospital closures. Most rural areas had fewer coronavirus patients to treat than urban areas, and when combined with the slowdown in other health care, it meant rural providers had almost no income for two and a half months. It is more important than ever that rural hospitals remain open to ensure Americans have access to critical care services.

To ensure those rural providers can weather this pandemic, I introduced H.R. 6365, the bipartisan Immediate Relief for Rural Facilities and Providers Act, on March 23 with Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA). H.R. 6365 gives rural health care facilities and providers the resources they need to continue treating patients both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation creates a mix of grants and low-interest loans for rural hospitals and providers to help make up for their lost revenue. You can read more about the legislation on my website. This assistance will help rural health facilities keep their doors open during and after the coronavirus public health crisis.

Over the past several months, I have watched providers act heroically to ensure patients receive the best care possible despite the numerous challenges they are facing. I feel strongly that we should not let doctors be subject to lawsuits for trying to do the right thing and keep their patients safe by following government recommendations. That's why I recently introduced H.R. 7059, the Coronavirus Provider Protection Act, with Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA). Except in instances of gross negligence or willful misconduct, this bipartisan legislation would provide targeted legal protections to health providers who had to suspend elective procedures, delay care, treat patients outside of their general scope of practice because of physician shortages, or provide care with shortages of personal protective equipment. We should ensure that good doctors don't face frivolous lawsuits by those who would take advantage of the coronavirus crisis.

I am also pleased that the Trump administration has acted aggressively to modernize our health care system to provide care during the pandemic. The administration implemented significant new telehealth reimbursements, which ensured that doctors could provide essential care to our seniors through smartphones, computers, or landlines. In fact, I believe these changes could be helpful for the private sector as well, which is why I joined Rep. Schrier in introducing H.R. 6644, the Health Care at Home Act, which will require employer-sponsored plans to reimburse for telehealth visits as if they were in-office visits during the coronavirus crisis. This bill will help patients receive the care they need, limit the risk of exposure to coronavirus for both health care workers and patients, and ensure providers can continue to afford seeing patients.

Health care workers are on the front lines of our country's fight against the coronavirus, and they need our support. Although we have slowed the spread of the coronavirus, we still have a long road ahead of us. During the remainder of my time in Congress, I will continue working to provide them the tools and resources they need to care for patients.


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