Rep. Schrier Introduces Bill to Provide Immediate Relief to Rural Hospitals

March 24, 2020
Press Release

ISSAQUAH, WA – Congresswoman Kim Schrier, M.D. (D-WA) and Congressman Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) have introduced H.R.6365, the Immediate Relief for Rural Facilities and Providers Act of 2020. As COVID-19 puts more of a burden on local health care systems, rural hospitals will need financial support in order to keep serving their communities.

“Rural hospitals play a critical role in our health care system to ensure everyone has access to care,” said Rep. Schrier. “Right now, they are facing unprecedented challenges and urgently need the resources to respond. This bipartisan legislation will get the funding needed to support rural hospitals and providers that are on the frontline of this pandemic. We cannot lose our rural hospitals.”

The Immediate Relief for Rural Facilities and Providers Act of 2020 provides relief to rural hospitals to help address the COVID-19 crisis with emergency mandatory grants to Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) and rural Prospective Payment System (PPS) hospitals to stabilize loss of revenue.

“My hospital and others around the state are making significant investments to prepare for the COVID-19 crisis. Unfortunately, we are ill-equipped to handle the costs associated with this work. Rep. Schrier’s bill provides badly-needed resources as we work to meet our community’s health needs in this deadly crisis,” added Julie Petersen, CEO, Kittitas Valley Healthcare, Ellensburg.

“The COVID-19 crisis is straining the resources of all rural hospitals, and without relief, access to health care services in my community and others will be threatened. Rep. Schrier’s bill would support rural hospitals and the communities they serve, and prevent long-term damage to our health care delivery system,” said Diane Blake, CEO, Cascade Medical, Leavenworth.

Specifically, the legislation will:

  • Provide Immediate Relief for Rural Hospitals with an emergency mandatory one-time grant to Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) and rural Prospective Payment System (PPS) hospitals equaling $1,000 per patient per day.
  • Provide Stabilization for Rural Hospitals with a one-time, emergency grant for CAH and rural PPS hospitals equaling the total reimbursement received for services for the first three months of 2019 to stabilize the loss of revenue.
  • Encourage Hospital Coordination with a 20% increase in Medicare reimbursement for any patient in a rural hospital using the swing bed program to incentivize freeing up capacity in larger, overcrowded hospitals.
  • Provide Stabilization and Relief for Providers with an emergency, one-time grant for all providers and ambulatory surgery centers equal to their total payroll from January 1 - April 1, 2019.
  • Provide Funding for Physicians and Providers by authorizing the Small Business Administration to provide low interest loans to providers and ambulatory surgery centers at a 0.25% interest rate that will not accrue until two years after the COVID-19 pandemic has ended

“Hospitals and health care providers in rural America already struggle to keep their doors open, and the COVID-19 crisis is only making that harder. During a pandemic, it is critical our rural hospitals remain open to ensure all Americans – no matter where they live – have access to quality health care. We must also ensure individual doctors and small group medical practices are able to weather the storm and reopen once this crisis ends. I am proud to introduce this legislation to provide immediate relief to rural health facilities and providers so they have the resources needed to care for patients during and after the COVID-19 crisis,” said Rep. Roe.

The Senate version of the Immediate Relief for Rural Facilities and Providers Act of 2020 was introduced by Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) on March 21, 2020. Read the full text of the House bill here.