RHC Modernization Act Introduced by Senator Barrasso and Senator Smith
Nathan Baugh, Director of Government Affairs
NARHC is pleased to announce that Rural Health Clinic Modernization Act has formally been introduced. We have been working hard to get this legislation introduced for the past year and it is nice to see our efforts pay off. But the job is nowhere near done!
Over the next couple of weeks and months, we have a lot of heavy lifting to do. We need to: 1-rally cosponsors in the Senate; 2-get an identical bill introduced in the House; and 3-build a bipartisan coalition of cosponsors in the House. We will need to build grassroots support for the RHC Modernization Act if we are going to have any chance of getting Congress to sign this into law. In other words, we need your help.
Please consider reaching out to you Congressional Delegation and asking them to cosponsor the RHC Modernization Act. In the coming days and weeks, NARHC will be providing materials online to help RHCs make effective advocacy pitches to your Senators and Representatives.
In the meantime, please feel free to contact Nathan Baugh Nathan.Baugh@narhc.org if you need help or guidance on how best to contact your Congressional offices and advocate for this legislation.
Here is the press release from Sen. Barrasso:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 4, 2019
CONTACT: Barrasso Press Office (Barrasso) – (202) 224-6441
Molly Morrissey (Smith) – (202) 224-9857
Barrasso, Smith Introduce Bipartisan
Rural Health Clinic Modernization Act
Bill provides regulatory relief for rural health clinics and improves reimbursement rates.
WASHINGTON, DC –Today, U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Tina Smith (D-MN) introduced the bipartisan Rural Health Clinic Modernization Act (S. 1037). The bill provides regulatory relief for rural health clinics while also improving reimbursements for these important facilities.
“As a doctor from a rural state, I want all patients to have access to high-quality care wherever they live,” Sen. Barrasso said. “Rural health clinics have a long record of making sure that folks in rural communities receive primary care close to home. I am proud to help lead this bipartisan effort to strengthen rural health clinics so they will continue to serve patients in Wyoming and across rural America.”
“We need to do everything we can to make sure that people in rural areas are able to get healthcare,” Sen. Smith said. “While there have been significant changes in the health care system, many of the laws focusing on Rural Health Clinics haven’t been updated in over 40 years. Our bipartisan bill would fix some of the old rules that are in need of these upgrades. For example, it expands the ability of physician assistants and nurse practitioners to provide care in these clinics. This legislation is really about making sure at the end of the day people are going to be able to get the vital care Rural Health Clinics provide in underserved, rural areas.”
Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) were established through the Rural Health Clinic Services Act of 1977. The purpose of RHCs was to address the shortage of health care providers serving in rural communities, including advanced practice clinicians.
There are approximately 4,100 rural health clinics operating in the United States. Rural Health Clinics are an important part of the rural health care safety net, with facilities heavily dependent on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.
The law governing rural health clinics is more than 30 years old. This is why the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services recommended updating the statute to meet the needs of the modern health care system.
The Rural Health Clinic Modernization Act:
• Updates how advanced practice clinicians are utilized by RHCs, bringing the statute up to date with current state laws.
• Updates the statute regarding laboratory requirements and delivery of telehealth services.
• Increases reimbursements for RHCs. Currently, RHCs are paid an all-inclusive rate for the care they provide. This rate has not been legislatively updated since 1988. This legislation updates reimbursements to better reflect the quality of care provided by RHCs.