ACUTE CARE, INC. Supports the National Rural Hospital Association’s (NRHA’s) letter to the US Senate and House leadership, requesting funding for rural health facility infrastructure investment.
NRHA is eager to continue to work with Congress to craft the American Jobs Plan, commonly referred to as ‘the infrastructure package,’ to provide additional support and opportunities to rural providers. In the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), 2021, Congress created the new Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) designation, and in the CARES Act, Congress afforded rural providers with greater flexibilities for telehealth services. We believe that Congress should use this infrastructure package to provide resources to rural providers to modernize their services for the 21st century.
In order to build upon the success of the American Rescue Plan Act and other COVID-19 related pieces of legislation, NRHA encourages Congress to do the following: 1. Provide capital funding for rural hospitals to build and enhance their infrastructure. The administration’s outline for the American Jobs Plan refers to community health centers and hospitals when describing safeguarding critical infrastructure and services and defending vulnerable communities. P a g e | 2 NRHA applauds the administration for including this language reiterating the importance of hospitals to the American health care infrastructure. It is critical that Congress include funding for rural hospitals in the upcoming infrastructure package. In rural areas, hospitals are often the first or second largest employer in each county. While these facilities are the lifeblood of a given community, they are typically dated and often operate on negative margins. To keep their doors open, rural hospitals must be able to meet the needs of their patients. Unfortunately, many rural providers have cited lack of resources and inadequate facilities as barriers to providing comprehensive services via in-person care and telehealth services. In some communities, rural hospitals date back more than a half-century and are not able to meet the demands of current health care needs. The time is due, and Congress has been presented the opportunity to revitalize rural health care by bringing rural facilities into the 21st Century so they can meet the distinct needs of their rural communities and to prepare for the next public health crisis. Congress must include rural health clinics (RHC), critical access hospitals (CAH), and other small rural hospital designations in the health infrastructure language to ensure rural communities are provided their fair share of healthcare capital resources.