Rural health care legislation attached to Medicare bill |

Rural health care legislation attached to Medicare bill

Staff Report

Rural communities can expect to see an increase in the quality and dependability of local health-care services due to legislation included in a new Medicare bill, U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis says.

McInnis took a lead role in writing rural health care legislation and inserting it into the Medicare bill, which has passed Congress and is expected to be signed by President Bush.

The legislation aims to guarantee access to affordable and high-quality health-care services in rural communities by increasing Medicare reimbursement levels for rural hospitals and home health-care agencies, according to a news release from McInnis. The measure also would expand choices in Medicare coverage for seniors.

“The rural health-care safety net, which all rural Coloradans count on being available when needed, depends in large part on adequate Medicare payments to ensure that small rural hospitals get reasonable reimbursements for their costs,” McInnis said. “Failing to strengthen these hospitals through the Medicare program threatens their overall health and the health of the communities that they serve.

“The passage of this plan represents a great victory for rural Coloradans who deserve access to quality and dependable health care,” McInnis said.

He said the measure, if signed into law, will:

– protect sole community hospitals by providing a hold-harmless provision, guaranteeing the highest available reimbursement under Medicare for these vital health-care providers.

– extend until 2008 rural health plans reimbursed as cost contracts, a type of health plan used by many seniors in rural Colorado.

– strengthen the critical access hospital program by allowing for fluctuation in bed limits, allowing flexibility to address seasonal fluctuations such as a short-term flu epidemic.

– increase the Medicare reimbursement rate for critical access hospitals.

– provide for a 5 percent increase in Medicare reimbursements for home health services provided in rural areas.

– continue the standardized amount of Medicare reimbursements for rural and small urban hospitals.

– provide a 5 percent increase in Medicare reimbursements for physicians practicing in shortage areas.

– Increase payment for hospitals in low-wage areas.

– Modify the geographic adjustment for physician payments, reflecting regional differences in costs for various physician services.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.