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Must-Do Task for Rural Providers: Call Congress

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, February 5, 2014

As it stands now, rural hospitals face a potential double whammy. Not only could they be saddled with paying for the SGR repeal, they could also lose this supplemental money that comes with it. A Senate bill creating a permanent fix for SGR doesn't address how to pay for it, but continues some supplemental funding for rural hospitals in a number of areas including ambulance and transportation costs. However, two separate bills in the House don't include any supplement funding for rural health.

"That is our concern. That is where we think we need to do a big education pitch to the House," says Elehwany. "Even in the more urban states every Senator has rural constituents."

Understand that in the halls of Congress right now there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of well-paid lobbyists trying to protect their particular special interest from any budget cuts. That's why it is so important for rural providers to take the initiative and contact their elected representatives. Groups like the NRHA and the American Hospital Association do a good job making the case for hospitals. But nothing makes an elected representative take notice like an active electorate. While Congress en masse appears to be out of touch with the rest of America, individual representatives and senators are not.

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