WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King today joined a bipartisan group of their colleagues in expressing their concern to the Administration that federal rules for health care facilities do not adequately consider the impact these decisions have on rural communities.
In a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Director Marilyn Tavenner, the senators pressed for details about how the agency is incorporating rural health care experts earlier in rule-drafting and called for comprehensive information on the rulemaking process. Noting that recent policy decisions have not adequately reflected the reality of health delivery in rural areas, the senators called on CMS to work toward practices and standards that take rural health facilities into account during its initial rulemaking process. Such efforts would help make sure seniors, families, veterans, and others can access services they need in their communities, rather than forcing them to travel long distances for care.
“We remain concerned these policy decisions do not reflect the reality of providing care in rural communities, and we request additional details on these consultation efforts in advance of future rulemaking,” wrote the senators. “The proportion of elderly rural Americans continues to grow, and even small policy changes or incremental payment adjustments have a significant impact on access to care in rural areas. Medicare beneficiaries should be able to obtain care within their own communities when possible, and we are committed to ensuring federal policies recognize and incorporate the unique challenges rural providers face.”
The letter, signed by 34 senators, can be read here.