Act to save rural hospitals introduced to Congress

BELHAVEN, N.C. (WNCT) – An act to help save rural hospitals across the country is now in front of Congress.

The Rural Hospital Act would help smaller hospitals by increasing Medicare reimbursements for care to 105%, and reversing the bad debt reimbursement cuts.

At Vidant non-critical regional hospitals, Medicare reimbursements are about 80%. At Vidant Medical Center inpatient care, the reimbursement is about 85%.

“It tries to solve the problems of why rural hospitals are closing and then the other thing it does is try to provide a path forward to see that there is some type of new rural health model that makes sense in 2015,” said Maggie Elehwany, the VP for Government Affairs and Policy with the National Rural Health Association.

One of those possible models is called the Community Outpatient Hospital (COH), which would provide emergency care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, while providing timely transfers for patients who require a higher level of care. It also recommends smaller hospitals set up primary care clinics.

Belhaven Mayor Adam O’Neal said this would help towns like his who have suffered, or are suffering, rural hospital closures.

“Communities can customize their situation with health care to what’s best for the community,” O’Neal said.

He said he is proud because he believes the walk he and others did earlier this summer from Belhaven to DC played a role in getting this act introduced.

Elehwany said the act still has a long way to go before being signed into law by the President.

To read more on the act, click here –>Save Rural Hospitals Act


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