Legislation languishes as rural hospitals struggle

October 05, 2015


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While the Affordable Care Act has allowed millions to gain access to health insurance, rural hospitals continue to face reimbursement cuts and practice-of-medicine regulations that administrators say do more harm than good. In the U.S., nearly 2,000 hospitals are rural and 1,333 qualify as critical access. With little prospect of legislative or regulatory relief, critical-access hospitals’ ongoing financial woes are being compounded by Medicare cuts imposed by sequestration and the failure of most rural states to expand Medicaid.


Healthcare lobbyist Eric Zimmerman, an attorney at McDermott Will & Emery with numerous healthcare clients including the recently formed Medicare Dependent Rural Hospital Coalition, said it is unlikely Congress will take major action this session to save rural hospitals. With the annual doc-fix legislation no longer in play, legislators fighting for special interests such as rural hospitals no longer have a “must pass” legislative vehicle for pursuing desired healthcare changes … Zimmerman said Congress will have trouble finding the funds for major reform or rolling back cuts from the ACA.

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