Collins, King Call on New HHS Secretary to Support Quality Health Care for Rural Maine

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King joined 39 of their colleagues today in sending a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price urging him to work with Congress to prioritize quality health care for rural states like Maine. In the letter, the Senators also emphasized the importance of rural health care providers and their critical role in rural communities.

 

“As you take on this new leadership role at HHS, we request that you work with us to ensure that the federal government does not act as an impediment to providing health care in rural communities. Overreaching and onerous regulations from Washington disproportionately harm rural America. We believe that together we can enact and implement effective policies that help providers innovate in care delivery and enable them to make efficient use of available resources,” Senators Collins and King and their colleagues wrote. “We hope you remain dedicated to ensuring all Americans—no matter where they live—have access to quality, affordable care.”

 

The letter was led by Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.). In addition to Senators Collins and King, the letter was also signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Joe Donnelly, (D-Ind.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), David Perdue (R-Ga.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), John Thune (R-S.D.), and Tom Udall (D-N.M.).

 

The complete text of the letter is as follows:

 

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Dear Secretary Price,

 

As senators representing rural states, we look forward to working with you this Congress to ensure access to quality care and to protect the viability of facilities in rural America. Almost ninety percent of our nation is geographically rural, with 20 percent of the population living outside urban areas, often miles away from a health care practitioner.

 

We appreciate your focus on rural America and look forward to working with you and President Trump to strengthen access to health care services in vulnerable rural communities across the country. Health care is constantly evolving in our country, and rural providers, patients, and facilities need reliable partners at all levels in order to be successful.

 

Rural hospitals play a critical role in communities across this country.  In addition to providing health care services to surrounding communities, hospitals are often one of the main employers.  It is critical we work together as Republicans and Democrats to ensure these hospitals are able to continue to provide care.

 

We recognize that providers need to adapt to changes in the delivery of health care.  We are encouraged by innovations we have seen in our states as providers test new care models and technologies like telehealth and remote patient monitoring.  We know you will find bipartisan interest in supporting these types of innovations, and we look forward to working with you to improve our health-care system. We recognize the importance of tackling this issue in a fiscally responsible way but believe investments in rural America yield substantial returns on investment.

 

As you take on this new leadership role at HHS, we request that you work with us to ensure that the federal government does not act as an impediment to providing health care in rural communities.  Overreaching and onerous regulations from Washington disproportionately harm rural America. We believe that together we can enact and implement effective policies that help providers innovate in care delivery and enable them to make efficient use of available resources.

 

We hope you remain dedicated to ensuring all Americans—no matter where they live—have access to quality, affordable care. We look forward to continuing to work with you as we move forward to improve health care in rural America.