On June 25, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced S. 1355, the Rural Health Clinic Patient Access and Improvement Act of 2009. The bill addresses long-standing underpayments to rural health clinics, introduces a quality improvement program to RHCs, and provides incentives to recruit and retain medical professionals to rural areas.
The bill also raises the all-inclusive Medicare payment cap for RHCs to $92, a greater than 20 percent increase over the previous cap, which was set in the 1970s. Currently, rural health clinics are hamstrung by low reimbursement rates that pay them less than what it costs to deliver care. This legislation allows for better collaboration between community health centers and rural health clinics. It will also create a five-state demonstration project to determine whether medical professionals would be incentivized to practice in rural areas if RHCs subsidized a portion of their medical liability costs.
CRHC has contacted Colorado’s Senators to urge their support and co-sponsorship of this legislation. Please click HERE for more information and to read the bill in its entirety.