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Rural Hospitals Prep for 'March' on Washington

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, July 25, 2012

NRHA's March for Rural Hospitals is on July 30-31. More than 50 rural hospitals and organizations are attending, and NRHA is extending an open invitation to anyone who cares about the issue. "We are all hands on deck at this point. Anybody can show up. It is a free conference. We aren't asking anyone to pay anything," says David Lee, NRHA's manager of government affairs and policy.

NRHA is asking rural health providers to support the bipartisan Senate Bill 2620 (HR 5943), which will renew for one year funding for both Medicare-dependent hospitals and low-volume hospitals.

"We are trying to raise the noise level on both of these provisions," Lee says. "They affect relatively few hospitals, so the people who are affected need to be as loud as possible because some of the other provisions can drown them out. And we hope these rural provisions aren't forgotten when everything else is looked at."

Even in this gridlocked and dysfunctional Congress, rural healthcare providers should remain optimistic about the chances for SB 2620. For starters, it's not terribly expensive. The Congressional Budget Office has scored a one-year extension as costing less than $100 million over 10 years, which Lee called "a very small number relative to the federal budget."

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