Senate Support Act seeks to keep rural hospitals open

Published 2:00 pm Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Wednesday, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), of Brookhaven, announced she has cosponsored legislation that will ensure more predictable federal resources to help rural hospitals remain open.

The bipartisan Rural Hospital Support Act (S.1110) would permanent extend the existing Medicare-dependent Hospital (MDH) and Low-Volume Hospital (LVH) programs. It would also establish new payment adjustments for Sole Community Hospitals (SCH) and Medicare-dependent hospitals to FY2016 operating costs, if it results in higher payments for such hospitals.

“Mississippians, especially those in rural communities, understand the financial stresses on their local hospitals and how devastating it would be if they were forced to close,” Hyde-Smith said.  “This bipartisan legislation would give assurances to rural hospitals that certain Medicare programs on which they rely are authorized permanently and not subject to lapsing.”

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Hyde-Smith last year worked with her colleagues on the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee to include a two-year extension of the MDH and LVH programs in the FY2023 omnibus appropriations law. These rural hospital “safety nets” are extended through Sept. 30, 2024.  S.1110 builds on this effort.

The bill would not change other rural hospital Medicare programs used by Mississippi hospitals, including critical access hospitals (CAH), Rural Referral Centers (RRC), Rural Community Hospital Demonstration, or the new voluntary Rural Emergency Hospitals (REH).

Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) authored the legislation, which has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee. It is supported by the Rural Hospital Association, American Hospital Association, and Alliance for Rural Hospital Access.

Read a S.1110 summary here.